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Planned tower to boost area cell phone service

VALRICO: Land use hearing officer Margaret Tusing last month sent a clear signal to Alltell cell phone service users by approving the construction of a 150-foot radio-telephone support structure and antenna.

Alltell will build the tower on 3,600-square-foot leased area that is part of a 9.62 acre site on the west side of Lithia-Pinecrest Road, about 700 feet northwest of Valrico Road.

John Hankins, an Arkansas-based Alltell engineer, said the tower will improve digital cell phone coverage for Alltell subscribers in a 2-mile radius around the tower, which is about halfway between Lumsden Road and Bloomingdale Avenue.

"This was an area of major complaints by our customers," Hankins said. "Due to terrain issues and vegetation that area has some pretty poor coverage."

Alltell currently has cell towers in the Bloomingdale, Dover and Providence Lakes areas, but those structures have been taxed by the large number of Alltell customers in Brandon.

Alltell first tried to find an existing tower to use, Hankins said, but none was available.

County staff, in its recommendation to the land use hearing officer, noted that the location of the tower, closer to the roadway and farther from the nearby subdivisions, would minimize the impact on those neighborhoods. Plus, a number of large trees on the property would help shield it from view.

No neighbors expressed opposition to the construction of the tower at the land use hearing. William and Bea Hilbrands own the property where Alltell will build the tower. (Petition SU 03-0707)

SUN CITY CENTER: Sun City Center residents may be getting a new restaurant. Sun Plaza I has filed a request to change the designation of 4.6 acres at the northwest corner of U.S. 301 and State Road 674 from residential to office and retail space. The property is within a 12-acre parcel now partially developed with a Publix-anchored retail center. The developers want to incorporate the land slated for residential uses into a planned development that will include retail space and a restaurant totaling 10,000 square feet and a low-intensity, low-rise 99,500-square-foot office park. Surrounding land uses include duplexes to the west, a vacant tract to the north set to be developed as a church, a proposed Wal-Mart Super Center to the east on U.S. 301 and an existing commercial shopping center to the south. The County Commission is scheduled to consider the request Aug. 12. (Petition 03-1178)

APOLLO BEACH: W.L. Ward Development wants to modify the zoning of 2.6 acres on Frond Way just south of Miller Mac Road. The site was approved for 21,000 square feet of commercial space in 2000. The developer wants to build an 8,400-square-foot day care center and two 3,000-square-foot office buildings. The County Commission is scheduled to consider the request Aug. 26. (Petition 03-0761)

When and where

Hearings of county zoning hearing masters and land use hearing officers, and land use meetings of the County Commission are held on the second floor of the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd. All hearings before a zoning hearing master begin at 6 p.m. on Mondays or Tuesdays; commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Both are televised on government access channels. Land use hearing officer hearings, which are not televised, begin at 9 a.m. every third Friday. Basic information about each petition is available online at pgmzoning/home.cfm by petition date. For information, call 276-2058.