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Environmentalists and a Doppler Radar Tower May Block Controversial
 10 Story 350 room Hotel on Edge of Florida Everglades


By Susannah Bryan, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 27, 2009--SUNRISE -- A Doppler radar tower may stand in the way of a controversial 10-story hotel and office project planned on the edge of the Everglades.

Assistant Deputy Mayor Sheila Alu, a fierce opponent of the project, says the developer will likely need permission from the FAA to build the project, slated for 22 acres on the west side of the Sawgrass Expressway near Sunrise Boulevard.

In a 1996 agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, Sunrise agreed no building would be constructed within 2,500 feet of the Doppler radar tower. Such a building would interfere with the 14-story radar tower and potentially affect aviation safety.

The $4.7 million tower transmits signals to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, helping air traffic controllers warn pilots of dangerous wind shear.

"They put it out there because there were no tall buildings," Alu said after Tuesday night's city commission meeting.

Environmentalists have joined Alu in vowing to continue fighting the hotel-office project. They warn of potential damage to the Everglades and the region's dwindling water supply.

Attorney Dennis Mele, who is representing Kentucky developer Sawgrass Investors, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

In a previous interview, Mele said his client should be ready to break ground on the 10-story Everglades Hotel by the end of 2009. The project calls for 450,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet of commercial space, along with a 350-room hotel.

Construction should take about two years. The office tower would come later, once tenants are found.

The developer won a key vote from Sunrise commissioners in late April when they approved a new zoning category that will allow the developer to avoid scaling back the project. Alu cast the lone dissenting vote.

Susannah Bryan can be reached at sebryan@SunSentinel.com or 954-385-7929.

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Copyright (c) 2009, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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