SARASOTA, Fla. — After four months of a heated debate between Manatee County and residents who live near Kinnan Elementary, commissioners have come to a final decision regarding the controversial public safety radio tower on Prospect Road.
- RELATED: Manatee neighborhood residents protesting rising radio tower
- Commission voted 5-2 to continue construction
- Steps taken to retain neighborhood meetings in decision process
Manatee County commissioners voted 5-2 on Tuesday to resume work on the 185-foot radio tower. Its purpose is to improve communication between Manatee and Sarasota counties' 67 agencies.
Residents who live nearby say they understand the need for the tower. They were angry, however, because the county didn't inform them until after work had already started.
"We're still in shock. Disappointed. Just disgusted with the county," said Marley Boss, who lives by the tower site.
When commissioners got word back in the spring that residents were not informed, they issued a stop work order and agreed to look at other options.
One that was presented to the commission Tuesday included building two smaller towers instead of the 185-foot one.
"The two tower location came with significant time delay and cost increases to the amount of about $6.5 million," said Nick Azzara, a spokesperson for Manatee County.
The county reports they didn't have to hold neighborhood meetings regarding the tower's placement because of the type of structure it was.
"It took the administrative approval route, so it did not require a neighborhood meeting," Azzara explained.
While the tower will stay, commissioners agreed they wanted the county to take steps to ensure that when a large structure goes up in a residential area neighborhood meetings are a part of the decision process.
"Staff will be working on some changes to our land development code that will require government-owned facilities, such as a radio tower going up, to involve neighborhood meetings," Azzara said.
Work will resume on the tower in the next few weeks. Construction is expected to be complete by Fall 2019.