County land won’t be used for cell phone tower

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County Commissioners Thursday declined a request by Mastec Company, representing AT&T, to lease a small area at the Basinger Civic Center to install a cell phone tower.

Commissioner David Hazellief said he did not think the county should lease out any public land unless there is some reason they can’t put it on private property.

County attorney John Cassels noted the county would have to make it available to all providers.

He said the commission would have to consider what is the public benefit if they allow a commercial business on public property.

“If they have bad cell service out there, there is a need for the residents who live in the area,” said Commissioner Brad Goodbread. “But I agree with Commissioner Hazellief. I don’t want the county in competition with private enterprise.”

Commissioner Terry Burroughs said there is plenty of private property adjacent to it.

“If they have contacted all of the private landowners and no one will let them put the cell tower on their property, they can come back to us,” said Commissioner Goodbread.

County administrator Robbie Chartier said the size of the Basinger Civic Center property is probably not sufficient to set aside an area for a cell tower, as all of the property is used by those who lease the civic center.

In other business, Commissioner Goodbread noted there have been some questions about two billboards that say “Welcome to Okeechobee County.” He said the ads were put up by the billboard company at no cost to the county. They plan to leave the signs up until they lease the billboards to other advertisers.

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