Monday, October 05, 2015

Dune Hammock Park Cell Phone Tower? No way!

Beach commission to discuss possible cell tower, marijuana ordinance
Posted: October 4, 2015 - 11:44pm

A proposed 150-foot cellphone tower and an ordinance regarding the sale of medical marijuana are on tap for discussion by St. Augustine Beach commissioners tonight.

Tim O’Shaughnessy, owner of CLQ, a Winter Park company, wants to build a “camouflage cell tower” on a 6.1-acre piece of vacant land on A1A Beach Boulevard, located between the Anastasia Plaza shopping center and Whispering Oaks Subdivision, according to a memo written by City Manager Max Royle.

This is an ideal spot because it “sits right next to a commercial building and away from residential (buildings),” O’Shaughnessy said in his proposal.

The St. Augustine Beach code says cell towers require a conditional use permit in commercial districts. A cell tower must also be 300 feet away from residential buildings, according to the code.

But since the property in question is designated as park and recreation, a land use change will be needed to give it a commercial status for a cell tower, according to the memo.

The Beach bought the property from St. Johns County in 2005 for $2.5 million, and officials expect to finish paying off the purchase in January 2017. Because the Beach will ultimately own the property, county officials told O’Shaughnessy to get approval from the Beach commission before moving forward.

“Because this property will be owned by the city soon, the county has no problem with the project,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Benefits of having the cell tower include paying off the property and good cell coverage, he said.

Commissioners are expected to listen to O’Shaughnessy’s proposal and decide whether to move ahead with it Monday night.


Beach commissioners will also discuss a possible marijuana ordinance tonight.

Statewide, it is legal for certain qualified doctors to prescribe low-THC cannabis for patients who are suffering from “cancer or a physical medical condition that chronically produces symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms,” according to the Compassionate Use of Low-THC Cannabis section of the Public Health chapter of Florida Statues.

Known as the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, it allows the Florida Department of Health to approve up to five dispensing organizations in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health website.

Dispensing organizations must meet a list of requirements, and the state has received 28 applications from nurseries, greenhouses and other organizations from all over Florida, the website said. The state has not approved any of the applications yet.

Because of this change in state law, Beach officials suggest preparing for the future by “[adopting] regulations to control not only the sale of marijuana through legal dispensaries, but the cultivation of marijuana as well,” Royle wrote in a memo.

Officials recommend that the regulations for the sale of marijuana could be similar to the city ordinance that regulates where liquor stores can be located in the city, the memo said.

Liquor stores are permitted as long as they are less than 8,000 square feet and are located in shopping centers that have more than 15,000 square feet of covered space, the ordinance states.

“Standalone package liquor stores aren’t allowed, but are allowed in a shopping center,” the memo said. “You could require the same for medical marijuana dispensaries.”

Regarding the cultivation of marijuana, officials recommend that it should not be permitted to grow in the city, the memo said.

But if a blanket prohibition is not legal, it is suggested that it be prohibited in all noncommercial land use districts in the city, but allow it by conditional use permits, and restrict its proximity to schools, churches and residential areas.

They also suggest adopting the regulations to prepare for if recreational marijuana becomes legal in Florida, the memo said.

If commissioners decide tonight that the suggested regulations are needed, they will direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance, which will be reviewed at the November meeting.

Other items on the meeting agenda include:

■ Tree Board matters

■ Review of a proposal for participation on a stainability communities program

■ Consideration of policies for display of information at commission meetings and civility at commission meetings

■ Consideration of hiring a park planner for Ocean Hammock Park

■ Review of changes proposed to the solid waste service

If You Go

What: St. Augustine Beach commission meeting

When: Monday at 7 p.m.

Where: City Hall, 2200 S.R. A1A South

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