Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clearwire problems in Florida; residents here and there work together

We’re not the only City discovering problems with Clearwire’s wireless-internet equipment. Residents of Tampa, Florida, are organizing to protect their own neighborhoods. I recently received an update from Tampa residents, Marlin Anderson and Carrie Grimail.

In Tampa, F&L Towers LLC wants permission to exceed local height codes by 88% -- they’re seeking an adjustment on the height code, taking it from 80 ft max to 150 ft max. From Anderson and Grimail:
The proposed tower is 150 feet tall ... and just a little over 80 feet from the Sunset Park condominiums. A typical lot is 50 feet in our area, so imagine this tower being less than two houses away from your property line. … At 150 feet it will be almost as tall as a 15 story building….
F & L Towers also plans to ask Tampa’s City Council to adjust the distance required from a tower to a residence. Anderson and Grimail write:

The minimum distance from the tower to the boundaries of a residence is the height of the tower. With a height of 150 feet, the tower would need to be located at least 150 feet from the boundaries of Sunset Park condominiums. The distance is only 83 feet, and a waiver is being requested to reduce the required distance from 150 feet to 83 feet. ... It’s to be battleship gray to "blend in" with the surroundings. But it won't blend in. Remember, the tallest nearby building on Henderson Blvd is just 3 stories ...
This is where Clearwire enters the story; F&L Towers revealed at a community meeting last week that the first lessee on this new tower will be Clearwire. Anderson and Grimail raise a number of interesting points we should all keep in mind:

Clearwire is a new 4th generation wireless service, and their competitors will be Verizon and AT&T. From recent newspaper articles, it appears that all of the towers that Verizon and AT&T will need to roll out their 4th generation wireless service were installed in Tampa during 2009. However, Clearwire has a much weaker signal than Verizon and AT&T, and consequently would like to install towers every 1500 hundred feet all over our city.
Clearwire has succeeded in some other cities in getting permits to install pole extensions onto pre-existing light poles and other utility poles. With these permits, they can install new poles without a land use review, because they are using the poles as if they were a utility. The pole extensions in Portland are 60 feet high, and
Clearwire has already installed 50 or 60 poles or towers in Portland , and they
want to install even more. These poles are being installed in residential neighborhoods, on residential streets, right in front of people’s homes.
(Note from S. Stewart, one such extra tall pole is proposed in the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood in Portland, visit to learn more about it.)
Once granted, these permits give Clearwire the rights and access of a utility. However, unlike our power and telephone lines, they are not providing universal service, but instead only to some members of the community who sign up for Clearwire’s service. And unlike cable companies who only have to run wires, the proliferation of pole extensions will have a major negative impact on the aesthetics of our neighborhoods and our city.If they were to receive this permission in Tampa, this would result in a grid of poles throughout our residential neighborhoods. If we allow this to go forward, you will soon find noisy "boxes" on tall poles outside your homes and all over your neighborhood. … Furthermore, it is not known if Clearwire will be able compete with Verizon and AT&T, and could go out of business, leaving us stuck with tall poles in our neighborhoods all over town.

To sum up, we shouldn’t be allowing a company to profit at the expense of our neighborhoods by harming our aesthetics and reducing our property values. We shouldn’t allow this proposed cell tower at Henderson and Manhattan , and, if necessary, we need to oppose efforts to install poles or pole extensions in residential neighborhoods in the City of Tampa.