Cell tower plan to be discussed

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Summerfield and Riverwalk officials are set to negotiate a contract with Vertex Development LLC of Tampa for a cell tower on District 1 property, but an 11th hour alternative might be considered Tuesday at Town Hall.

Supervisor Phyllis Troy said Friday she has decided to oppose the tower and will try to encourage her colleagues during the finance workshop to consider a technology that serves cell vendors from antenna mounted on utility and traffic signal poles and street lamps rather than from a 150-foot tower disguised as a flag pole.

Troy said she didn’t say yea or nay when fellow supervisors voted recently to pursue a contract on the tower, which has been opposed by many residents. Her silence was construed as a yea vote, but Troy said she now plans to be vocal in opposition.

“I will fight the cell tower,” Troy said. “I can’t tell you how many letters I am getting opposed to it.”

Troy said she has received information about a California company called NextG Networks, which specializes in a technology called a “distributed antenna system.” The company’s Web site is

“It piggybacks onto existing poles and you still get paid rent,” Troy said. “I’m going to run this by our board. I gave a copy of information about the company to our community manager, Bob Fernandez. Apparently, this company has just finished projects in Atlanta and Philadelphia.”

According to its Web site, NextG Networks “balances the aesthetics requirements of communities and consumers with the network performance needs of wireless carriers.”

The company boasts it gets “increased voice quality, greater handling of call traffic, fewer dropped calls, better mobile coverage, faster file transfers and enhanced video quality using fiber-optic equipment. The company says it pays for the use of locations via “municipal rights-of-way agreements.”

A discussion about bringing an entirely new technology into the picture is inappropriate, said District 1 supervisor Alan Roth.

“Our only concern is whether or not to accept the proposal by Vertex or a competing company for which we would receive annual payment,” Roth said. “We are not going out soliciting technologies.”

Troy’s idea is worth a listen, said District 1 supervisor June Stroup.

“Apparently, she has found another technology,” Stroup said. “I have not seen it. The reality on all this is that we also do need some type of improvement on cell signals.”

The plan now calls for Fernandez to talk to Vertex and begin work on some kind of contract, Stroup said.

District 1 will also discuss resident Manny Gonzalez’s suggestion to move the regular third Tuesday of the month finance workshop meetings to 7 p.m. rather than 3:30 p.m., which is in the middle of many residents’ work days, Stroup said.

Stroup said she doesn’t have a preference.

“If it got more people to the meetings I would be in favor of it,” Stroup said. “One of the reasons we meet during the day is a courtesy to Town Hall staff. Now, we would be asking three to five people to stay later.”

Among staff who would have to alter their schedules are Fernandez, finance director Steve Zielinski, operations director Ryan Heise and others.