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Controversial proposal for cell tower in Niceville

NICEVILLE   -- It's critical to emergency communication but neighbors fear it will lower their property values.
A proposal to put a 300-foot cell phone tower in a Niceville neighborhood is stirring up some controversy.

Laura Hussey "This public notice, posted along Bay drive in Bluewater Bay, warns that the appearance of this property is subject to change. That is exactly what has some neighbors quite concerned"
People choose to live in Bluewater Bay for the quiet surroundings and upscale vibe.
The idea of a big tower in the woods near this community pool is not going over well with neighbors like Gene Martin. 

Gene Martin/Bluewater Bay "It's going to be three hundred feet high, it's going to be pretty visible from where I live. I'm concerned about the property values"
The tower will replace one located on Nelson Point Road.
That landlord decided not to renew the lease.
In addition to four cell carriers, it handles radio communications for police, fire, EMS and other law enforcement agencies - a function the county describes as critical.

Gene "I know that towers are necessary somewhere. I would hope they could find a better area to put it than right next to a residential area"
John Palm sees it differently.
He says with the tower back in the woods, it won't be as noticeable as people think.

John Palm/Bluewater Bay "Now the neighbors, I don't think it's really going to bother them, but there's a lot o people who don't want anything to change, period"
Palm says if builders will keep local wildlife in mind, the tower might even be a place where high-flying birds could nest.

John "As far as I'm concerned, if they put an Osprey platform on it, I think it would be awesome!"

Laura Hussey "There will be a public hearing on the tower proposal, Tuesday morning at 8:30 at the commission chamber in Fort Walton Beach.