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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 2 years ago

City prepares for coming technology

More cell towers will likely be needed in the future.
by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

Today, people can watch a movie on their phone. They can use the GPS on the mobile device to find their way around. These conveniences have caused a demand for more data, and this will result in more infrastructure, such as antennae added to telephone poles, stand-a-lone towers similar to telephone poles, or more tall towers.

After receiving a permit from the city to build towers, antennae, etc., a company would then sell space on their equipment to service providers.

The Ormond Beach City Commission had a workshop Oct. 18 to get ready for this future growth.

John Noble, city engineer, said the city wants to provide service but also wants to be careful about the aesthetics of the city.

At the workshop, Susan Rabold, of City Scape Consultants, outlined areas the city should consider in developing rules for companies that seek to build infrastructure.

Rabold explained to the commissioners that the demand for data has skyrocketed. In addition to computers and phones, people have other devices such as I-Pads, so there is a need for interconnectivity.

“We need a lot of broadband,” she said.

Mayor Ed Kelley pointed out that service providers are offering unlimited data and this is going to drive a demand for more service.

Many communities are installing smaller towers or antenna wherever service is needed. She showed one example of ornate, old-fashioned light poles that also function as transmission towers.

There are also many options for the large towers, which includes camouflage or towers that look similar to trees. Some towers serve as flag poles, or blend in with the structure of a building.

Rabold said the city cannot regulate radiation transmission from the towers, because the federal government has studies that show the radiation from the towers is not harmful to animal or human life.

Commissioner Troy Kent asked Rabold to send him a copy of the studies.

Rabold said the city should create a hierarchy of the types of equipment they would prefer to see in the community.

City Manager Joyce Shanahan said the next step will be to decide where coverage is needed most and develop a master plan.

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.

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. The commissioners could vote on the ordinance in a final approval on Nov. 1.

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