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Shores looks at three sites for cell tower


Indian River Shores Town Manager Robbie Stabe has engaged Datapath Towers to coordinate efforts to build and market a cell tower at one of three locations in the Town, but the final decision on the site might be made by federal officials.

“The Federal Aviation Administration is a very big part of the tower business,” Stabe said. “They (Datapath) have to apply to them with coordinates of three options to make sure they’re not in the flight pattern.”

Stabe said the three locations Datapath is looking at are somewhere in the Shores Town Hall complex, somewhere on the Shores Public Safety Department property and at the west end of Fred Tuerk Drive.

The first two locations have made some residents of the Bermuda Bay community bristle. The more western location, which is also known as Bee Gum Point near an electric substation, has in the past prompted threats of litigation by residents of adjoining John’s Island.

Before any final vote is taken by the Town Council, the whole plan, once formulated, will have to first go through the Town’s Planning, Zoning and Variance Board. But even before the PZB hearing, Town officials will schedule a public workshop about the cell tower to give residents ample opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns. The workshop is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 22.

“Everyone agrees we need it, but not in my backyard.  I hear that just about every week,” Mayor Brian Barefoot said, echoing what Stabe said about the workshop being a good opportunity to involve residents in the process.

While the Town is trying to build consensus for a 130-foot tower which can support up to five cellular providers, the leadership at John’s Island is also formulating a plan to erect a tower somewhere within the community. The two towers combined would work in tandem to afford Shores residents, the Public Safety Department and anyone driving through the Town with ample signal for both telephone calls and data services on mobile devices.

Originally, the Town had looked at installing one or two 85-foot “stealth” towers that would be disguised as flag poles or palm trees, but that option was analyzed by the Town’s Finance Committee and deemed not feasible. Two stealth towers would be double the cost, but each could only support two cellular providers, limiting the income that could be gleaned from leases on the finished towers.

Stabe said the Town and John’s Island are managing their cell tower efforts separately, and that John’s Island may choose to own its own tower while the Town has chosen to simply get a share of the profits from the leases negotiated with cellular providers. But whenever possible, the Town and John’s Island are sharing information and they are working with the same Datapath Tower company.

“They’re not part of the Town’s project, but they’re part of the Town,” Stabe said.

Once a location is chosen, it will take close to a year for the tower to be completed. At present, the closest cell towers to the Shores are on the Village Spires condominiums on Ocean Drive and at Sea Oaks in the unincorporated county near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.