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Opinion
The City Commission has discussed a need for better cell phone service.
Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Jul. 9, 2016 2 years ago

Better cell phone service in our future?

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City looks at cell towers, telephone pole antennae.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

“Can you hear me now?” Those words are heard in some areas of Ormond Beach, where cell phone reception is weak.

The topic has been discussed at City Commission meetings, with Mayor Ed Kelley complaining he can’t get cell phone service at his house, and saying Ormond Beach residents and businesses should be able to talk on cell phones anywhere in the city.

It’s inconvenient for residents and hampers business growth.

This topic is likely to arise in the future, as a company called Crown Castle received approval from the City Commission at their June 27 meeting to register as a telecommunications provider, a step that is necessary before applying for a permit.

Crown Castle is in the business of installing infrastructure for wireless services, including cell phone towers as well as installing antennas on the top of telephone poles and additional poles when necessary.

But City Manager Joyce Shanahan could not commit on what sort of technology the company might offer until they apply for a permit. She didn’t know if cell phone service would be involved.

“I don’t know what they will ask for,” she said. “It could be for cell phone or other service.”

It’s too early also for the company to make a statement.

“Crown Castle has registered as a telecommunications provider for the city in anticipation of community needs. At this time there are no deployment plans,” said a company spokeswoman.

Limiting the infrastructure

In January, the City Commission approved an ordinance that would limit the height of poles in the public right of way as well as the number of new poles that could be added by a telecommunications company. It was in response to a request from Planning Director Rick Goss, who said a company had approached his department with the idea of installing antenna on top of telephone poles, and adding poles. He told the commissioners that at that time, there was nothing in the ordinance limiting the number of poles that could be added in the city right-of-way.

The commissioners passed an ordinance, but the second reading (final approval) was tabled when it was decided that the commissioners should hear from a telecommunications expert before setting guidelines.

Shanahan said recently that the second reading will likely occur in August, and the commissioners will hear from an expert at that time.

The topic of towers

There has an ongoing effort to have a cell phone tower at the airport. The city had a contract with a company called TowerCom to construct a tower at the airport, but the contract elapsed in January when TowerCom did not get agreements with any cell phone providers. City staff is currently in discussions with other companies.

There was a proposed cell phone tower to be located near West Granada Boulevard and Clyde Morris Boulevard in 2013, but it was voted down by the City Commission. The general objection was that it would be unsightly.

So, stay tuned, better reception may be coming.

 

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