Posted on September 10, 2019 · Posted in Investments, Land

Broward County’s own rules don’t allow it to build a communications tower on property it owns in West Lake Park, the site it successfully pushed for over the objections of Hollywood officials and residents.

But the county can get around its own charter regulations — if it gives the land to someone else first. Enter Tamarac, a city about 20 miles from the park site, which plans to do a deal with the county to keep the desperately needed new radio system moving forward for police, firefighters and other emergency responders.

County officials have had to be creative finalizing plans to replace an aging public safety radio system that was overwhelmed during the January 2017 Fort Lauderdale airport shooting where five died and the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland that killed 17 and wounded 17 others.

“It’s cumbersome, but there’s always issues when projects of this magnitude have to be done,” Broward Commissioner Michael Udine said. “Every tower siting location for this project had unique challenges. This is just another one along the way.”

The West Lake Park tower site is the last of 16 to be finalized. Hollywood officials fought the tower location, preferring the antennas be put atop a downtown high-rise. The county also had to override restrictive rules placed on the West Lake Park parcel that limited the site to park and recreation uses.

But that wasn’t enough to get by the county charter, which also restricts the use of county park land to park purposes, county officials said. The rule doesn’t apply to city-owned park land. The charter allows the county to swap the land with a city, acre for acre, with the swapped land turned into county park space. Commissioners will consider a swap.

With the ownership in Tamarac’s hands, that will clear the way for construction of the 325-foot tower. But Tamarac doesn’t have land it’s willing to swap. No problem, county officials say. The county will spend $890,000 to buy 3 privately held acres in the Long Key Natural Area in Davie and give the property to Tamarac.

Tamarac then will swap the Long Key land — which the county wanted anyway — for the West Lake parcel. There’s even a benefit for Tamarac to helping the county out. The city will lease its newly acquired West Lake site back to the county for the communications tower, paying Tamarac $62,400 a year in rent.

“The whole process may look fairly convoluted and leave the public scratching their heads, but it’s not,” City Manager Michael Cernech said. “The county approached the city about the land deals and Tamarac officials are committed to doing their part to help complete the new countywide radio system. When you peel back the layers of the onion, this is actually a pretty simple solution to getting these radio towers built.”


Source: SunSentinel

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