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Application for Doppler radar tower withdrawn

No explanations were offered for decision

By No explanations were offered for decision - | Feb 17, 2021

Lee County Department of Community Development received an email last week informing staff that Fort Myers Broadcasting Company has decided to withdraw its special exception/variance application for the radar tower on Pine Island.

According to architect firm Morris Depew Associates, the client formally withdrew the application on Tuesday, Feb. 9, without explanation.

Calls made to Fort Myers Broadcasting for comment were not returned by press time.

Last September, Morris Depew held a public information meeting regarding the planned installation of a 110-foot WINK News Doppler radar tower on Pine Island for parent company Fort Myers Broadcasting. The meeting was held at the Fishers of Men Lutheran Church.

According to Morris Depew, Fort Myers Broad-casting was ready to begin construction of the tower on a piece of property it owned at 4789 Stringfellow Road in St. James City. The project was awaiting a hearing examiner’s approval of the plan.

At that public information meeting, islanders addressed concerns about the tower, which would have been built 300 feet from Stringfellow Road. Among the key issues for islanders were that surrounding residents and wildlife might be inundated with unseen signals or frequencies emitted from the radar tower; that part of the property might be sold, rented or used for something else in the future; or that it might open the door for other 110-foot or higher constructs.

WINK officials explained the benefits of having the tower built on the island, that it would allow the TV station to provide improved weather information and warnings.

WINK News chief meteorologist Jim Farrell, who spoke at that meeting via satellite from the news studio, said that the tower would be “harmless.”

He was quoted as saying, “They’re not going to hurt the wildlife, they’re not going to hurt the population. In some metropolitan areas, such as Tampa, not only do they have the weather service Nexrad dual pole Doppler, but individual television stations have them in very populated areas operating 24/7. If they were dangerous, they wouldn’t be allowed.”

Since that time, the radar tower has been a hot topic of conversation on the island with many organizations, like the Greater Pine Island Civic Association, holding discussions about the project.