Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Cell tower to get vote next week

KEY LARGO -- The Monroe County Planning Commission is expected to make a final decision at its April 30 meeting in Marathon on whether to allow a cellphone tower to be built near mile marker 95, oceanside.

So far, the planning department has only received positive feedback for the project, according to records requested by the Free Press.

The Development Review Committee has recommended approval of a 130-foot tower to be installed behind Key Lime Tree. "As a community and a tourist destination, we need better service," wrote Karri Attinger, who describes herself as a Monroe County resident and business owner.

One resident near Harry Harris Park, whose cellphone reception could benefit from the tower, says he wants it up.

"This area of the Keys, badly in need of decent service, will be much improved with this tower," Rick Richter wrote to the planning commission. "Standing outside to make a phone call is a recipe for disaster in an emergency event."

Chris Sante, who owns the property where the tower would be placed, said cellular service officials approached him about installing the tower as they try to fill the last cell service gap for AT T customers in the Upper Keys.

A lease agreement with the developer calls for Sante to earn $9,000 annually for the use of his land.

The Tavernier Community Association, which is often vocal on development projects in the area, has not lobbied either for or against the project. Members of the TCA told the Free Press they are split on the matter. Some say the tower will be an eyesore, while others say it is important to have cellphone service inside their homes.

If the commission approves the project, the tower could be up as soon as year's end, according to Sante.

Also before the planning commission next week will be a request from Playa Largo developers for an extension on their permit. They cite the economic downturn of 2008 for delaying their poject.

Plans for Playa Largo, a bayfront resort at mile marker 97, were recently unveiled to local residents at an onsite soiree. If the commission approves the extension, the resort would open in the summer 2015, according to developers. Approval of the project was initially given by the planning commission in 2007.

jgore@keysnews.com

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