The Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority approved an amended lease Tuesday for a telecommunications tower to be built on Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport property.
Main Site LLC, owned by Atlanta-based developer Paul Rozeman, plans to build a 133-foot telecommunications tower south of Dolphin Aviation. Rozeman originally planned for the tower to be northwest of Dolphin Aviation on an Airport Mini-Storage site. But after airport staff presented concerns about the tower’s conflicts with helicopter operations to and from the Dolphin Aviation ramp, Rozeman changed his development plans.
“The existing helicopter flight pattern was developed with the helicopter operators to avoid overflights over the residential neighbors to the west who were concerned about noise,” meeting documents state. “Having to alter that path to avoid a new telecom tower might place helicopters over those very neighborhoods – a result no one wants.”
Staff were also in favor of moving Rozeman’s project because, though the Federal Aviation Administration did not agree, there was concern the telecommunications tower would create a sight issue with SRQ’s new air traffic control tower, currently under construction.
President and Chief Executive Officer of SRQ Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo said the new air traffic control tower will cost about $27 million. The original cost of the project was estimated at $25 million, but the airport seeks to connect the new ATC tower with airfield instruments via fiber optic cables, which will add cost.
The new communications system will cost approximately $1.5 million, Piccolo said.
January 2018 Estimated completion date for new air traffic control tower at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Source: SRQ President and Chief Executive Officer Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo
“We want the most modern type of connection for that, and that’s fiber optic,” Piccolo said.
All members of the authority board were present to approve the lease except Ann Moore.
The zoning and permitting parts of the project will take the most time, Rozeman said. Because the airport is subject to an existing general development plan and a development of regional impact, Rozeman’s project will require two public hearings, estimated to take roughly four months to complete.
“It’s 60 days to build after that,” Rozeman said.
4 to 6 monthsEstimated time frame for permitting, zoning of new telecommunications tower
Though the project may have received faster permitting at the original mini-storage site, according to meeting documents, Rozeman “is willing to abide this delay.” According to the five-year lease, rent is $11,400 per year, payable at $950 per month. The lease includes five additional five-year options.
The airport has yet to announce the fiber optic project for bid and Piccolo hopes to see it go to bid in the next couple of months.
Despite the added cost in the air traffic control tower project, Piccolo expects SRQ to see a budget surplus once again in fiscal year 2017. The Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority approved the fiscal year 2017 budget of almost $16.75 million that Piccolo presented at last month’s meeting.
“We lowered landing fees by 14 percent, our square-foot rental rate is about up 1 percent, airline costs are down 1 percent and we cut staff to the lowest it’s been in the 21 years I’ve been here,” Piccolo said. He emphasized to the authority board last month that the budget is built on “conservative measures.”
“I always try to underestimate revenues and overestimate expenses so we’re not caught in a budget shortfall,” he said in August.