Nextel Corp. has won the first round in what appears will be a series of cellular tower clashes in Central Florida between residents who oppose the towers and the telecommunications giants who argue the flagpoles are needed to service millions of local customers.

Lake County commissioners voted 4 to 1 in approving a site for Nextel 900 feet from the Cassia Community Club, about 28 miles from Downtown Orlando.

But Nextel’s victory may be a hollow one. The proposed tower site belongs to an indicted marijuana trafficker who must prove to the county he legally owns the land. If he can’t, the deal may be off.

The landowner is Terry Wayne Allen, the 45-year-old proprietor of Allen’s Land-Clearing and Bush-Hogging business. He has pled not guilty to county and federal charges stemming from a 1995 investigation.

County and federal authorities want to confiscate Allen’s property and assets estimated at $500,000. If that happens, the legal cloud over the land would grow still darker. And Nextel may eventually have to search for another site.

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