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Fate of cell tower proposed for Buchanan Middle rests with Tampa zoning official

Ellen and Lee Vaughan are vocal opponents of a company’s plan to build a cell phone tower at Buchanan Middle, on a site about 75 feet from their home in the Woodbriar Village subdivision.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Ellen and Lee Vaughan are vocal opponents of a company’s plan to build a cell phone tower at Buchanan Middle, on a site about 75 feet from their home in the Woodbriar Village subdivision.

CARROLLWOOD — Residents are waiting to see whether a zoning hearing master listened to their pleas to squash the proposal for a cell tower at Buchanan Middle School.

"I think it's quite clear that the tower is imposing," said Ellen Vaughan during a public hearing Monday.

Her home in the Woodbriar Village subdivision is about 75 feet from the proposed tower site. Vaughan and her husband, Lee, showed a minute-long video that gave a clear view of the tower location from her back yard.

Ralf Brookes, an attorney representing the Vaughans, spoke in opposition, as did Sam Casella, a certified planner hired by the couple.

The 160-foot tower is being proposed for Buchanan Middle School at 1001 W Bearss Ave. Collier Enterprises II, the company that seeks out potential tower locations for cell carriers, is handling the lease agreement.

Monday night's public meeting was in conjunction with Collier's submission for a special-use permit, required in order for the cell tower to be built.

A few parents also joined the dissenting voices at the public hearing.

Kim Britt, whose child attends Buchanan, said a different location for the cell phone tower was proposed during an Oct. 15 meeting held at the school.

"It was closer to the agricultural center," Britt said. "With all the sinkholes in our neighborhood, I can't support that."

But Jim Porter, a land use attorney representing Collier, said the site presented Monday was the same location presented on Oct. 15.

The tower is proposed for the rear of the school on the northwest corner of the property. It would be a slim-line monopole model with a flush mounted antenna, said Porter, noting that the plan met all of the county's published criteria.

The county's planning and growth management staff found Collier's request consistent with Hillsborough's comprehensive plan.

But that didn't squelch residents' concerns.

"It seems inconceivable to me that the school would take on the enterprise of cell phone towers," said Richard Maney, a Country Lake Estates resident, adding that the tower would be a "tremendous eyesore."

James Scarola, the zoning hearing master at the meeting, had 15 days from Monday to decide about the tower.

If approved, the school's principal would have the final say about whether a tower would go up on the campus.

Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at nhutcheson@sptimes.com or (813)-226-3405

Fate of cell tower proposed for Buchanan Middle rests with Tampa zoning official 12/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:35pm]
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