The city is also adjusting its code of ordinances to make it easier for carriers to build towers on certain public land parcels.
Palm Coast’s City Council has unanimously approved a wireless master plan that will allow for the construction of up to 10 additional wireless communication towers at 29 possible public land sites throughout the city.
To ease the process of adding the infrastructure, the City Council had to first amend the city’s ordinances — which it voted unanimously to do during its Jan. 16 meeting — into streamline the process through which carriers would add new towers.
The new master plan and revision of the city’s code of ordinances are part of a process designed to entice the four major wireless carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint — to add additional antennas in the city and plug service gaps.
“The word we get is that it’s difficult to expand service here in Palm Coast, because of our ordinance, because of the perception — who knows exactly. But the word we get from the carriers is that it’s difficult to put up antennas in Palm Coast,” City Manager Jim Landon said. “And as soon as you get that reputation, then they go elsewhere where it’s easier.”
The city contracted with Diamond Communications in May 2017 to design the new master plan.
The plan recommends that the new towers be single-pole towers known as “monopoles,” rather than lattice-style towers, and the changes to the city’s ordinances set out a simplified process by which carriers could apply to add up to a 150-foot monopole tower on those particular sites.
The changes would be designed to increase both coverage (the geographic area served) and capacity ( the amount of data that can be transmitted).
The council, again by unanimous vote, also voted to update its ordinances to comply with state law that requires cities to allow for the placement of small antennas called “small cells” on the city’s right of way. Small cells are expected to be integral to the rollout of the next generation of wireless technology, called 5G for “fifth generation,” but aren’t a replacement for traditional macro towers.
“The small cells don’t work well until you actually have that good coverage,” Landon said. “So you need both.”
In other business at the Jan. 16 City Council meeting, the council approved an update to the Palm Coast Park Development of Regional Impact development order.
The change, which updates boundaries between residential, uplands and wetland areas and alters where developers can undertake soil extraction and borrow-pit work, is necessary to allow for any future construction.
The development order for the site, which is located west of U.S. 1 north of Matanzas Woods Parkway, was first approved in December 2004, then amended in 2007 and 2011.
Developers Sunbelt Palm Coast I LLC and Florida Land Investments I bought the land in August 2017.