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Sprint, Verizon seek tower approval

Both requests for steel structures to be built on private property came in soon after

By JAMES THORNER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001


ZEPHYRHILLS -- Ten days after Pasco County commissioners lifted a moratorium on cellular phone towers, wireless communications companies have applied to raise at least two of the steel structures.

Verizon Wireless seeks permission to build a 150-foot monopole tower on property leased from Powers Garage west of U.S. 301 and north of Chancey Road.

Farther north, the Linville family, owners of Zephyr Egg Co., has agreed to lease part of a chicken farm to SprintCom Inc. for a 200-foot lattice tower south of U.S. 98.

Both requests are scheduled for initial consideration Thursday by the county's Development Review Committee. Commissioners wouldn't vote on the applications until June.

Verizon and Sprint are among the first two companies to ask commissioners to let them build towers after the April 20 expiration of the moratorium.

Pasco imposed the freeze in January to buy time to hire a radio frequency engineer and a cell tower planner.

Some commissioners, backed by a vocal group of activists, complained about the ugliness of many towers.

The planner, Ted Kreines, will spend the rest of the year stiffening the county's existing tower ordinance and creating a master plan that could limit where antennas are placed.

During a session with commissioners last week, Kreines told commissioners they could do away with cell towers and replace them with antennas disguised as trees and street lights.

Nevertheless, because of their wide range and relative cheapness, towers are favored by the wireless communications industry.

As part of the county's greater scrutiny of cell towers, Verizon and Sprint's applications include aerial maps purporting to show gaps in service to be plugged by the new towers.

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