Cell towers to be removed from Scenic Hwy. 98 after Tuesday vote

Staff Reporter
The Destin Log
This is what one of the existing cell towers near the Crab Trap looks like.

With a unanimous vote during Tuesday night's City Council meeting, city leaders will not allow small cell structures in city-owned right of ways.

Over the past few months, the city has debated what to do about cell structures after it was brought to their attention that two cell towers had been installed near the Crab Trap along Scenic Hwy. 98 without the proper permitting.

Since, the city has had a series of discussions with representatives from Southern Light, LLC, the company tasked with installing the towers for Verizon Wireless.

When the item was on the agenda again Tuesday, city leaders had three options to consider.

The first would be to leave the existing towers in place and painting to resemble palm tree trunks with "palm kits" placed on them so they would look like a tree.

"The cell tower dressed up as a palm tree is still a cell tower," Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell told her colleagues. "Personally, I'm opposed to any cell towers at that location."

The second option would require four locations to be used, with only one of them in the city's right of way. Two of the locations would be on existing light poles in the Crab Trap parking lot. The third location would be at a Destin Water Users pump station easement north of Scenic Hwy. 98 and the fourth location would be atop an existing light pole in a right of way on the north side of Scenic Hwy. 98.

The third option city leaders considered was not allowing small cell structures in a city-owned right of way, which was the option ultimately chosen.

Given the council's decision Tuesday night, Southern Light must now remove the cell towers from the right of way. There is no specified timeframe for the removal.