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Palm Coast Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2016 6 years ago

Proposed 'monopine' tower to improve cell signals near Palm Coast Parkway

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The 150-foot tower would carry ATT and up to three more cell carriers.
by: Jonathan Simmons Managing Editor

The proposed cell tower is supposed to look like a giant pine tree.  But Palm Coast City Councilman Bill McGuire thinks it looks more like something else — something you'd need "if you've got a giant bottle, and you want to wash it," he joked at a March 29 Palm Coast City Council meeting.

Still, the council raised no major objections to the proposed 150-foot tower, which would be placed at 4 Corporate Drive and is expected to improve cell reception for anyone whose cell plan carrier signs on to use the tower.

ATT has already done so. The tower can support up to four carriers.

"We've got dead zones that we're well aware of that are getting worse and worse, because it's not just where the towers are, it's also how many people are trying to use those towers," City Manager Jim Landon told the council at the workshop.

Councilman Jason DeLorenzo said he's had signal problems with ATT in the area.

"They can put one in my backyard, honestly it's so bad," DeLorenzo said. 

The proposed initial five-year land lease for the tower site would require the tower company, American Tower, to pay the city $24,000 annually, increasing 3% each year. 

The monopine tower's limbs would conceal antennae that the tower company could not, as per city code, place on a regular flagpole-style monopole telecommunications tower. 

The council didn't vote on the tower March 29 — that meeting was a workshop, and the council only holds votes during its business meetings — but it will vote on the proposal at a future meeting.

Councilman Jason DeLorenzo asked if the tower could be placed at city Fire Station No. 21 on Corporate Drive, a location that has been proposed as a possible site for a new 350-foot emergency radio tower as the county upgrades to a digital emergency radio system that may require more towers, including one or more within the city limits.

That wouldn't necessarily work, said city Information Technology Director Steve Viscardi, because moving the telecommunications tower even a quarter mile in one direction from the proposed site just west of the county library branch could leave coverage holes that carriers want to fill.

Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts asked Viscardi if the monopine tower could also be used for emergency radio communication. It could be, Viscardi replied, but the 150-foot tower might not have good signal penetration inside buildings. 

Netts said planning is difficult because the county hasn't told the city how many emergency radio towers it might need for its upgrade.

"We need to know," DeLorenzo replied. "I mean, this is literally a quarter mile or less from that (Fire Station No. 21) location."

Netts said it seems the county itself doesn't yet know what it will need.

Landon said that the proposed emergency radio system upgrade is "years out" at this point.

"What’s so bizarre about this conversation is our whole focus was on the actual radios themselves… and then poof, out of the middle of no where, then all of a sudden, ‘Oh, well we've got this tower issue,'" Landon said. "It’s frustrating because we should know by now, but we don’t."

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