Anna Maria has sights set on new cell tower

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Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 5:57 pm | Updated: 9:08 pm, Wed Mar 12, 2014.

MANATEE COUNTY-- Anna Maria Island, is known for its tranquil community, serine beaches, and poor cell service.

"You'll get calls dropping in and out. God forbid you should have to dial 911, I've had to dial that before and my calls had been dropped believe it or not," said Peter Lass a long time Anna Maria resident.  He says reception on the entire island is lacking but the north side is extremely bad.  It's a familiar issue for city officials.

"They have to go outside to get cell reception or you see them moving towards a window and so on.  It's according to what your carrier is but reception is just very bad," said Sue Lynn the Mayor of Anna Maria.   Lynn says there has been concerns about the issue since 2002. But, back then the feelings about the matter was a lot different.

"The commission chambers were packed with people who did not want a cell phone tower.  Now 6, 7, 8 years later people stop me on the street and say when is the cell going to be built," added Lynn.

And after a recent vote by commissioners the answer to that question is soon. The groups has already designated a site -- 90 feet in front city hall, that's currently used for parking.  Still, not everyone sees the benefit.

" I don't own a cell phone so I don't have any interest", said resident Robert Birke.

And tourist like Barbara Memory says she hasn't noticed the issue, "I definitely rely on my cell phone service. I'm from Georgia and I've been able to text, I've been able to google, make and receive calls. My cell phone service has been outstanding," added Memory.

And, while the timeline for the new tower is not set in stone those who live on the island say they cant wait for the day they no longer have to go outside to use the phone.

"For public safety its just ridiculous that calls are getting dropped, its time for a cell phone tower," said Lass.

Officials estimate the it could take about 9 months to construct the tower but since they still have to get federal approval and multiple permits that timeline is not set in stone. 

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