Public records issue arises from Long Hollow Cell Tower investigation

The neighbors in the North Hill and Long Hollow area have been concerned about the work being done on the cell tower in the conversation district near their homes. Melanie Nichols of the North Hill Preservation Association received through a public records request list of corrections required of GCBC, Inc., the contractor on the site, by Bill Weeks of the City Buildings Inspection Department. The corrections were sent to GCBC yesterday, according to Nichols.

1. Since the pad for the base foundation was not inspected for depth, rebar size, rebar placement, or tying, and no photographs for the excavation seem to exist. Is it the engineers opinion that the “existing pad” must be considered as nothing other than a 2 foot by 16 foot square block of concrete without rebar installed, since it was neither inspected by his office or ours? Please provide statement to that effect along with all calculations used to determine it will meet all of requirements of the Florida Building Code so that they may be reviewed.

2. The City of Pensacola does not allow photographs to take the place of inspections. The photographs that were provided showed inconsistent spacing of rebar and sloppy work.

3. Since the foundations and tower are located within the confines of the Longhollow storm water system, decreasing the capacity of the area by building berms will require calculations showing the effects of these berms.

4. Although the engineer, in his letter states “We are recommending an onsite tower inspection … and We will recommend the tower inspection company….and after the inspection we will approve the structure to complete the tower inspection” this does not relieve the contractor from calling for the required inspections.

When a reporter asked Vernon Stewart, the city’s Public Information Officer, about the current permitting status of the Long Hollow storm basin radio tower and whether the foundations were ever ripped out and repoured as instructed, Stewart replied, “The engineered construction plans were reviewed, permitted and inspected. The permit was issued to Gulf Coast Building Contractors and the final inspection on the tower was completed on August 7th, 2015. The foundations that were poured were not removed, the engineer of record designed a new foundation that was independent of the old foundations. The permit has been closed.”

This is contrary to the public records that Nichols and her friends have been given. She wrote Stewart and Maxwell Branham, the city’s public records coordinator:

Dear Mr. Stewart and Mr. Branham,

I have requested and received what should have been all the permits, engineering, and inspection results for the Long Hollow Tower and nowhere in any of those documents was there a building permit for Gulf Coast Building Contractors to build the new tower, or inspections on the tower, much less final inspections on the tower. Gulf Coast Building Contractors received a ‘repair to code’ permit for a job in the amount of $5,000 with drawings of the guy-wire foundations.

Attached is a letter from Bill Weeks, the Chief Building Official that was sent to GCBC on November 4, 2015.

My first point is that how can Mr. Vernon’s statement to the PNJ be accurate based on this November 4, 2015 letter, and the fact that there is no building permit for the tower?
Secondly, Mr. Branham, if there are, in fact, records of an August 7, 2015 FINAL inspection on the tower as Mr. Stewart states to the PNJ in the letter below, then that document was omitted from my very detailed public records requests and I would like to be sent a copy of those documents.

Thank you both for your assistance,

Melanie Nichols


The Long Hollow Cell Tower has a lot of red flags. The PNJ is investigating…as am I. Councilman Brian Spencer has added it to the agenda for next week’s meetings. Stay tuned.