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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Vertical Bridge exec issues statement on local committee’s proposal for Lee County Commissioners to vote on cell tower to only include tower, not site

March 3, 2023
By Marcy Shortuse
According to the agenda published by Lee County government two days ago, Lee County commissioners were supposed to gather for their regular monthly meeting to discuss many items, including the Gasparilla Island cell phone tower and surrounding site. The agenda describes the item as a decision to be made to allow the new tower’s construction, as it has to be approved by county commissioners because of the Gasparilla Island Conservation District Act. The GICDA specifically addresses any buildings or structures over 38 feet, which are not allowed on the island.  However, the Community Cell Tower Committee, which is the island’s group of community leaders and emergency officials overseeing the new cell tower project, said they have asked that the description of the agenda item be changed due to a few miscommunications, primarily due to the historic nature of the buildings around the site. The committee was surprised to see this item on the agenda, as they hadn’t even had time to get a good look at its contents. Staff recommended that the Board approve the item to “maintain consistent, reliable telecommunication services for residents of Boca Grande,” which makes sense. It had also already been signed off on by Community Development Director Dave Loveland, Anne Henkel of Budget Services, Peter Winton of Budget Services, County Attorney Michael Jacob and Marc Mora from the County Manager’s office. But there were still a few questions from island committee members that had not been answered at the time they last met with Vertical Bridge (the cell tower company) … questions that were supposed to have been answered prior to final submittal of a plan to the county.

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