Lakemont Heights neighbors won a significant victory over Time Warner Communications last week in a battle to prevent the company from using residential streets to gain access to a 371-foot transmitter tower located adjacent to the community.
To complete the construction of a new building on the 11-acre tower site, the cable giant agreed to 17 conditions outlined by Lakemont Heights residents. The most important concession is that Time Warner's service trucks will no longer access the site through Lakemont Heights. Instead, the company has agreed to build a road through property owned by Interlachen Country Club.
"This `agreement` will take traffic off our streets," says Carolyne Tanner, an area resident who has been a vocal critic of the cable giant. "Time Warner won't be going down any streets where children are playing."
Neighbors have been at odds with the company since Halloween when they discovered that it was constructing a 5,100-square-foot building at the tower site in spite of an agreement with Orange County government that no such expansion would occur. (See The bully next door," Jan. 31.)
County officials issued a stop-work order and uncovered a number of improprieties committed by Time Warner. Eight employees worked at the site even though it was supposed to be unmanned. The company also failed to obtain permits for 11 satellite dishes and another small facility on the site.
Instead of defending Time Warner, attorney Frank Kruppenbacher did something smarter: He issued an apology. "We apologize for what has happened here. The quicker we can get this done, the happier we will be."
Among the conditions Time Warner agreed to: building a block wall and providing landscaping to prevent noise and visual blight. The company also will install an entry gate with a "silent operating mechanism." Any future changes at the site must be approved by the city of Winter Park, which annexed Lakemont Heights April 1.
The well-organized residents said they were grateful to Winter Park and county officials for not backing down to the company, part of the multibillion dollar Time Warner-AOL empire. Neighbors indicate that management from the parent company might have helped speed a solution. "Time Warner got very serious in our discussions," says Jim Moreland, whose in-laws have a winter home in Lakemont Heights. "Somebody high up said `to` stop fooling around and get things done."