Long Hollow Cell Tower issue getting attention

On May 14, Melanie Nichols, president of the North Hill Preservation Association, asked Mayor Ashton Hayward, City Administrator Eric Olson, and the Pensacola City Council to review the cell tower being built in the Long Hollow Stormwater Basin. She pointed out several violations of city ordinances and policies.

In August, Inweekly asked Mayor Hayward to investigate the tower lease and construction. He had recently completed a  face-to-face interview with Shannon Nickinson of the Studer Community Institute. He said he wanted to put past mistakes behind him and move city government forward for the betterment of the community. Such an investigation would have been a positive step in that direction.

Mayor Hayward did nothing.

Instead, Nichols and a group of citizens invested their time and resources pouring over hundreds of public records. Their research was the basis for the PNJ article yesterday.

In 2012, City Administrator Bill Reynolds and city staff failed to recognize the tower was in an conservation district when they recommended a new lease. This isn’t the first time city staff overlooked the city’s Land Use plan. A similar miscue happened with Manna and the Pickens school site.

The tower is a grandfathered structure. The owner should never been allowed to extend it to 400-ft. The construction permit was for only 351-ft –which still violated the city land use plan.

Construction was done illegally and much of which was not inspected by city staff. The contractor on the permit – Biggs-Green Construction – said it was unaware the construction was being done.

The owner has answers but has anyone at the city investigated their veracity?

If not, then why?

Stay tuned. Councilman Brian Spencer wants the Pensacola City Council to use its investigative powers to get all the facts, but will he get four more votes to launch the investigation?