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By ERIC STIRGUS
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 23, 2000
LARGO -- A Boston-based company that wanted to build a giant telecommunications tower near a subdivision has withdrawn its proposal, county officials said Friday.
American Tower, which planned to build a 350-foot tower within walking distance of the Shadow Pines subdivision, sent an e-mail to the county's Development Review Services department Wednesday saying the company no was longer interested in building the structure in that neighborhood.
The e-mail did not explain why American Tower withdrew the proposal, Development Review Services officials said. Company officials were unavailable for comment Friday.
The reason is of no concern to Shadow Pines residents, who live just west of Starkey Road near 126th Avenue in unincorporated Pinellas County. Several residents gathered signatures on a petition requesting that county officials reject the proposal.
"That was good news," said resident Bill Wenzelburger, who went around the neighborhood asking residents to sign the petition.
The county's Board of Adjustment was scheduled to review American Tower's application early next month. Development Review Services had planned to recommend against approving the application. Officials there were concerned that the tower, which would be taller than the Statue of Liberty, would damage a home or hurt someone if it fell. The tower would have been290 feet away from the subdivision.
In addition to the worries about the tower falling, residents also thought that the tower would make their neighborhood look garish and cause property values to drop.
Shirley Kanyuck, who has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years, was thrilled when she heard the news.
"I'm happy," she said. "We're proud of our neighborhood and we didn't want that ugly thing here."
Her neighbor, Perry Ellie, was more cautious in his remarks, expressing worry that the company may resubmit plans to build in their area.
"I want to hear they have resolved this in another direction and it's not going to be back," he said. "I want finality."
County officials and American Tower have discussed extending existing towers along Walsingham Road that are used by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Last week, American Tower officials visited High Point United Methodist Church, off Roosevelt Boulevard and 61st Street, to look at 81/2 acres on its property that the church is willing to offer to the company to build the tower.
"The church is looking at various ways for additional funding," said its pastor, the Rev. Jim Lewis. "It's a high-need area, but there are low (financial) resources."
The tower would allow cellular telephone use for those aboard ships and other vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, company officials have said. They also said it would include U.S. Coast Guard equipment to help track someone lost at sea. Coast Guard officials have said they are not involved in the project.
Proposed tower raises worries (November 29, 2000)