March 19, 2013 9:26 am ET
Communications tower could present drawback for potential developers.
Local developer John Vontran’s development team is looking at the RFP (Request for Proposal) the county has for the North Point Government Center but they are not sure what their final intentions are.
I had heard through several sources that Mr. Vontan might be interested in making a bid for the property, which is one of the sites the county has for sale in an effort to deal with looming budget issues. After hearing the rumors I decided to send Mr. Vontran an e-mail and ask him for a comment. Mr. Vontran did respond quickly and wrote: “My team is looking at the RFP the county has proposed. Not sure what our final intentions are at this point.”
I also wrote back that the rumor was several developers have dropped out of the bid process for various reasons. Mr. Vontran then asked me if I knew what the reasons were and I told him I thought the communications tower was part of the problem. Mr. Vontran wrote that moving that tower could present a serious issue and cost $1 million dollars to move it and this would depend on federal regulations.
At that price I would think that would give pause to any developer but there are other issues that involve the community, the existing market trends and actual bids that meet the RFP requirements.
I dug a little deeper into this issue and found that any communications tower that impacts public safety comes under the federal government and the Homeland Security Act. It has to do with protecting the tower.
If there is any intention of moving it, the federal government would require an engineering study to make sure their guidelines were strictly followed. If their criteria were met, moving the tower could pose significant financial issues for any developer. The problem here is that a PUD would have no impact on that issue.
The site is currently zoned for dense residential and a PUD could change that but again, the tower stands tall as a major obstacle in any developers plans, not only due to the logistical aspect but the cost factors as well. If that is not enough, the developer must also deal with the federal government if the tower impedes their plans. I would say that presents a classic catch 22.
In addition to the looming tower problem, there are also the requirements of the county’s RFP which would require the replacement of the athletic fields and the building of a recreation facility for the community. In my opinion all of these issues make for a developer’s nightmare in finding the right fit (if any) for this property.
Some other sources I contacted said the county is planning a substation to be left behind specifically to protect the tower. This would be in response to the police precinct being relocated. This would be a small building designed for that sole purpose. If this information is correct, it appears the county is on course to make the sale happen. The closing of the Eastwood Elementary Magnet School adds credence to this plan.
I had also heard the county will not be responsible for (pending sale) tearing down the existing center and that would fall on the shoulders of the developer.
After a much publicized and well-attended community meeting, Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. has stated he will not support the sale of the Government Center if it does not meet or exceed the community’s use requirements of the current facility and athletic fields.
I guess we will know for sure by the end of April when the bids will be scrutinized and made available to the public.
In the end I believe it could be a quagmire for both the county and potential developers over the current pitfalls in place.