PGA hits 'pause button' on cell tower near Bolles Lower School

Parents ask County Commission to ban towers within 1,500 feet of schools

By Jennifer Ready - Reporter

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - As the parents of students at the Bolles Lower School Ponte Vedra Beach Campus asked the St. Johns County commission to ban cell phone towers near schools, the PGA Tour announced it will hold off on activating its new tower near that school.

Tuesday morning, a Tour spokesperson issued a statement saying it would "hit pause on the construction plans/activation for the tower in order to allow third-party experts (civil engineers and RF consultants) to revisit the process."

The new cell tower was installed last month on PGA Tour property right next to the campus. The Tour said it is more updated and will be more durable during storms and is replacing an old tower nearby.

Back in May, a group of parents told News4Jax they didn't know about the tower until it was already up. They said they are concerned about possible unknown health risks for their children attending the school nearby.

A petition made for the removal of the tower has more than 600 signatures.

A county spokesperson said the tower went through several public meetings and was approved back in 2017.

As of this past Friday, at the request of The Bolles School administration, we have agreed to a standstill through the 2019/2020 school year. The old cell tower that remains on PGA Tour property, 200 yards away from the new tower, will remain active during that time. This decision is in light of numerous considerations including the impact of the development of the new PGA Tour headquarters, our commitments to the county and the impact on the tower leases in place."
- Kirsten Sabia, Integrated Communications for PGA Tour

At Tuesday morning's St. Johns County Commission meeting, parents asked officials to consider an ordinance that would ban a cell tower from being placed within 1,500 feet of the school grounds.

"Let’s not put these towers next to schools where the kids are playing outside and they’re going to be there all day and they’re going to be exposed," parent Ehsan Shirazi said.

The county attorney said the federal government has a lot of control over what local and state governments can do when it comes to creating a cell tower ordinance.

The county administrator is asking parents to be patient while the PGA Tour looks into other options, but parents don't think that's the final answer.

"At this point, it gives us time (but) not complete relief because we don’t know what’s going to happen a year from now," a parent told News4Jax.

The county attorney said the federal government has a lot of control over what local and state governments can do when it comes to creating a cell tower ordinance.

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