USA City Ordinances to Limit and Control Wireless Facilities Small Cells in Rights of Ways

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT POLICIES & ORDINANCES TO REGULATE AND CONTROL WIRELESS FACILITIES  SMALL CELLS

From coast to coast local governments are taking action to protect their communities from the unfettered deployment of 4G and 5G “small cell” wireless facilities. Several cities are passing ordinances that strictly limit the buildout. Many policymakers ask “What are other cities doing?”

This page is a compilation of top examples of  what cities are doing to protect their communities. For each city we provide a short synopsis along with a link to download the ordinance or policy. Scroll down to see the City and policy. Please download and share these examples with your community. 

Local ordinances note various purposes such as preserving visual character, protecting environmental resources, and protecting residents against adverse health effects. They take a variety of approaches, such as prohibiting small cells in certain areas, creating application and recertification fees  and imposing aesthetic and administrative requirements. Some combine several of these approaches.

Importantly, federal pre-emption has been exaggerated. Local governments do have authority to impose procedural requirements for example. Please consider these two useful documents that came out of the efforts in Montgomery County Maryland by the law office of Mark C. Del Bianco and which clarify what localities can and cannot do in terms of procedural requirements for companies.

See more resources on 5G  – including the research in health effects and impacts to people, trees and wildlife here. Wireless radiation has harmful biological effects levels far below government limits.

Examples of areas addressed in these ordinances:

LOCATION

  • Prohibiting small cell installations in residential areas, certain streets, etc
  • Requiring installations to be a certain distance away from residences, schools, hospitals, and/or other installations
  • Specifying that installations must be relocated if/when they would interfere with a public project

AESTHETICS / ENVIRONMENT

  • Aesthetic, design, and noise requirements such as colocation, camouflage, height and light limits, etc.

ADMINISTRATIVE / LEGAL

  • Requiring that residents who will be within a certain distance of an installation be notified
  • Instating automatic time limits for permits
  • Requiring annual recertification fees
  • Requiring permittees to defend and indemnify the city from any liabilities arising from permits and the installation, operation and maintenance of small cell installations
  • Reserving the right to hire independent consultants at the applicant’s expense

OTHER

  • Appointing a committee to study the viability of a fiber optic network

EXAMPLES OF POLICIES & ORDINANCES  

Note: These were compiled from EHT research of various sources and a special thank you to Physicians for Safe Technology, My Streets My Choice and Last Tree Laws for their extensive resources utilized on this page. Please be sure to go to these pages for more information. Please contact EHT to add your Cities information to this page.

 

Petaluma, California: Ordinance of the City Council of Petaluma  

  • Protect environmental resources; protect residents against adverse health effects
  • Protect visual character; don’t create visual blight
  • Protect environmental resources; protect residents against adverse health effects
  • Commercial or industrial zones
  • Antennas must connect to an already existing utility pole that can support its weight.
  • Servicing wires must be installed within the width of the existing utility.
  • All ground-mounted equipment not to be installed inside the pole must be undergrounded, flush to the ground, within three (3) feet of the utility pole.
  • Dedicated power source to be installed and metered separately.
  • 1,500 feet minimum between each Small Cell facility.
  • No Small Cell shall be within 200 feet of any residence.
  • An encroachment permit must be obtained for any work in the right-of-way.

Petaluma, California: Ordinance of the City Council of Petaluma PDF

Fairfax, California: Urgency Ordinance to Establish New Regulations for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities; Ad hoc committee to study viability of fiber network

Ordinance modeled after Mill Valley’s:

  • Small cells prohibited in residential zones
  • 1500 feet separation
  • City to study citywide fiberoptic cable network.

 

Fairfax, California: Urgency Ordinance No. 819 to Establish New Regulations for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities

News: Marin Independent Journal  Fairfax to study fiber-optic broadband amid protest against 5G

 

Warren Connecticut

This policy defines adequate coverage and adequate capacity. It details that it was designed “to locate towers and/or antennas in a manner which protects property values, as well as the general safety, health, welfare and quality of life of the citizens of Warren and all those who visit this community, minimize the total number and height of towers throughout Warren, and provide standards and requirements for the regulation, placement, design, appearance, construction, monitoring, modification and removal of telecommunications facilities and towers.”

  • “Coverage is considered to be “adequate” within that area surrounding a Base Station where the predicted or measured median field strength of the transmitted signal is such that the majority of the time, transceivers properly installed and operated will be able to communicate with the base station.  In the case of cellular communications in a rural environment like Warren, this would be a signal strength of at least -90 dBm for at least 75% of the coverage area. It is acceptable for there to be holes within the area of Adequate Coverage where the signal is less than -90 dBm, as long as the signal regains its strength to greater than -90 dBm further away from the Base Station.”
  • “Capacity is considered to be “adequate” if the Grade of Service (GOS) is p.05 or better for median traffic levels offered during the typical busy hour, as assessed by direct measurement of the Personal Wireless Service Facility in question.”

 

TOWN OF WARREN SECTION 29 – SPECIAL PERMIT FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS: FACILITIES AND TOWERS December 11, 2012, Warren website link 

Burlington, Massachusetts: Town of Burlington Policy Applications for Small Cell Wireless Installations, October 22, 2018

  • Small Cell Committee drafted policy with annual recertification fees. Verizon withdrew its application, concerned by the precedent it would set and questioning its legality.
  • Verizon attorney Mr. Klasnick  stated “My client respectfully requests to withdraw the petition rather than have a fee,” he said.(BCATTV)

The Town of Burlington Policy / Application for Small Cell Wireless Installations approved by the Burlington Board of Selectmen on October 22, 2018 PDF.  

According to BCATTV Verizon Drops Small Cell Wireless Booster Application in Face of Fees:

“This week Selectman Jim Tigges, the board’s representative on the Small Cells Committee, said the group had come up with a new policy for small cell applications. The policy contains a number of provisions while filing an application, including setting installation fees, listing the town department that must receive a copy for review and setting up the timeline for approval.

The Verizon application, however, would not be subject to the policy because it was submitted before its adoption. However, Tigges and the committee did have a number of conditions for the project it recommended to the board. They included:

– No apparatus on double poles

– An agreement to annual recertification

– Equipment shall be located on top of the poles, colored similarly to the polse so as to blend in.

– Equipment shall not interfere with other equipment on the pole, nor obstruct or interfere with access to or operation of street lights or traffic controls devices on the pole.

– Poles must meet ADA standards.”

-NEWS: Verizon Drops Small Cell Wireless Booster Application in Face of Fees, October 23, 2018

Palos Vardes, California

According to citizens of the City, after citizen uproar, Crown Castle began  complying with municipal aesthetic requirements and moving proposed locations out of neighborhoods and away from homes.  The ordinance has four key components, if these are met the site will almost certainly be approved:

  • Minimal antenna size with screening
  • All accessory equipment underground (everything except the antenna)
  • Combining sites with existing vertical infrastructure (streetlights, traffic signals, etc.)
  • Strict location restrictions, no sites on local, residential streets without an exception granted

    If they don’t comply with these, then the applicant must demonstrate the site is required to fill a significant gap and there is no less intrusive alternative to receive an exception.  This is not simply checking a box (i.e. the applicant just claiming these conditions exist) but has to be demonstrated to the City planning commission via engineering analysis.

Palos Vardes, California Ordinance Chapter 12.18 – WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES IN THE PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY

Monterey California

Monterey California has now included that it can deny outright an incomplete application “without prejudice”. That stops the shotclock, and it allows an application to be resubmitted all over again along with paying the fees again.

to be updated soon.

Mill Valley, California: Urgency Ordinance No 18, September 6, 2018

  • New or updated facilities prohibited in residential zones. Commercial only.
  • Facilities installed on poles in public right of way must be 1,500 feet apart
  • Design, noise standards
  • Facilities in public right of way that would interfere with future projects / improvements must be relocated
  • Promptly remove facilities when no longer needed; replace with smaller facilities as feasible
  • Defend and indemnify the City

Mill Valley, California: Urgency Ordinance No 18, September 6, 2018 PDF

News Stories

Tech Crunch” Bay Area Blocks 5G Deployment Over Cancer Concerns

Marin Post Mill Valley Council Adopts Wireless Ordinance Protects Community

San Anselmo, California Council Policy

  • People within 300 feet of proposed antenna will be notified
  • Town is entitled to employ independent consultant at applicant’s expense to evaluate exceptions

San Anselmo, California PDF

Ross Valley, California: Wireless Telecommunications Facilities

  • Modeled after Mill Valley’s
  • Adopted regulations prohibit facilities in residential and downtown zoning district.
  • Facilities proposed in the public right-of-way subject to separate design criteria.
  • Limits height and width of facilities to a minimum necessary for property function.
  • Maximum height of 24 feet above the height of the existing utility pole and 7 feet above a street light standard.
  • Requires equipment to be placed underground.

Ross Valley, California: Wireless Telecommunications Facilities PDF

News Stories

https://www.marinij.com/2018/10/27/ross-valley-officials-work-to-tighten-5g-antenna-rules/

Danville, California: Proposed Ordinance No. 2018-07: Wireless Communication Facilities

  • Aesthetic requirements (design guidelines may be developed and amended from time to time to clarify aesthetic and public safety goals and standards)
  • Utilities must be underground to extent feasible. “Meters, panels, disconnect switches and other associated improvements must be placed in inconspicuous locations to the extent possible”.
  • Permits valid for initial period of 10 years max
  • “Where feasible, the location of wireless communication facilities shall be encouraged to be located on publicly owned or controlled property or right-of-way.”
  • Would allow small cells in residential districts:

–“All facilities shall be substantially screened from the view of surrounding properties and the public view or collocated with existing facilities or structures so as not to create substantial additional visual, noise, or thermal impacts. “

–Property owners within 300 ft of proposed site must be notified

Danville, California: Ordinance No. 2018-07 Wireless Communications Facilities PDF

Other Links

http://mystreetmychoice.com/danville.html

http://scientists4wiredtech.com/danville/municipal-wireless-code/

Walnut City, California

“Telecommunication towers and antennas shall not be located within 1,500 feet of any school (nursery, elementary, junior high, and high school), trail, park or outdoor recreation area, sporting venues, and residential zones.”

Screenshot of Ordinance from Walnut Website,

To see the code online  go to https://qcode.us/codes/walnut/, Click on “Title 6: Planning and Zoning” Click on “Chapter 6.88 ANTENNAS AND COMMUNICATION FACILITIES”, Click on “6.88.060 Design standards, See Item “O.

Sebastopol, California: City Council Agenda Item Report and Urgency Ordinance  (Recommended)

  • Purpose: Institute a moratorium on applications for small cells in the public right-of-way until adoption of a permanent ordinance

Previous regulations on telecommunications facilities (according to the recommended urgency ordinance, these did not anticipate 5G and do not address installation of telecommunications facilities in the right-of-way):

  • Purpose: Protect visual character, inhabitants, environmental resources

Cannot be located in any required yard setback area

  • Facilities within 400 feet of residential areas, schools, churches, hospitals etc must comply with NIER standards
  • Minor facilities must be 75 feet away from a “residential dwelling unit” except 1 single family residence on the property where it is located

Sebastopol, California: City Council Agenda Item Report and Urgency Ordinance Establishing a Moratorium on Small Cells in the Public Right of Way

Other Links

Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Proposed Section: Wireless Communications Facilities

  • Telecom company must prove prefered site/existing structure does not work
  • Above ground aesthetic requirements
  • Sound and light restrictions with emphasis on industry proving compliance

Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Proposed Section: Wireless Communications Facilities PDF

Hempstead, New York: Wireless Communications Facilities

  • Requires a special use permit for cell towers that encourages location of new wireless facilities so as to minimize their impact on  historically sensitive areas around residences, schools, houses of worship, day-care centers. Seven consideration factors are listed in order from more to least preferred, with existing towers being most preferred and new towers in residential zones  least preferred.
  • Prohibits towers from exceeding a height that permits it to operate without artificial lighting
  • Allows the town to hire consultants and do inspections
  • Set a fee schedule of $500 per pole
  • Requires a 4 foot warning sign on the pole
  • Utilities at wireless installations should be underground when possible

Hempstead, New York: Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance eCode Chapter 142

Other Links

https://mdsafetech.org/cell-tower-and-city-ordinances/

https://hempsteadny.gov/permits-and-applications/wireless-telecom-ordinance

Mason, Ohio: Zoning Ordinance – Wireless Communications Systems

  • No small cells in residential areas or within 100 feet of property used for residential use
  • Small cells must be 2000 feet apart (unless colocated)
  • Small cells are between 20-30 ft high (may be able to exceed 30 ft if colocated)
  • Every attempt shall be made to locate small cells on existing structures; if not available, within public right of way
  • All related equipment should be underground or wholly contained so not visible
  • Each facility shall consist of no more than 1 antenna/user and capable of providing communication for at least 2 users

Mason, Ohio Zoning Ordinance PDF

Sonoma, California: Report and Urgency Ordinance

On Nov 5, 2018 Sonoma approved their 5G urgency ordinance.

“Based on the foregoing, the City Council finds and determines that the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and welfare requires that this Ordinance be enacted as an urgency ordinance pursuant to Government Code Section 36937(b), and take effect immediately upon adoption. Therefore, this Ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and welfare and its urgency is hereby declared.”

The City also has a  Small Cell Tower page.

Sonoma California Ordinance on 5G PDF

San Rafael, California: City Council Report

This document also reviews other Cities 5G small cell policies.

News stories

“I want the city and county government to clearly say no to the FCC,” said resident Arthur Saftlas. “No 5G installations of any kind in Marin, until it can be proven safe for us and the environment.”- San Rafael, Calif., Officials Work to Tighten 5G Regulation

Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Zoning Changes via Ordinance 9-2016

  • City Council rushed through zoning changes to declare many streets off limits to new poles (said they could be much taller than existing ones)
  • Public Utility Commission stripped Mobilitie and other distributed-antenna companies of utility status, meaning that they would not get any more “certificates of public convenience” in Pennsylvania.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania Ordinance No. 9-2016 PDF

News Stories

  • http://www.philly.com/philly/business/comcast/philly-and-suburbs-brace-for-attack-of-the-small-cells-20170601.html?arc404=true
  • http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/Philadelphia-Braces-For-Small-Cell-Future.html

 

Holyoke, MA: Initial Request

  • Draft policy $500 fee for city inspection of rooftop poles/roofs every 2 years
  • Holyoke has submitted an order from councilor Bartley Roman to limit equipment and require $500 apiece per small cell–$500 may exceed FCC limits. At-large councilor Rebecca Lisi, on behalf of a Holyoke resident, recently submitted to the town lawyer a copy of the ordinance drafted by Pittsfield.

Information from https://www.lasttreelaws.com/ordinances.html

Booneville, Arkansas, September 2018

Proposed Ordinance would limit cell towers to 250 ft max; industrial zones

News Stories

Cell tower ordinance read for first time at council meeting, Sept 5, 2018

OTHER ACTIONS

Monterey, California: Verizon’s application denied

Commissioners overruled staff and voted 7-0 to deny telecom giant Verizon’s small cell application

Small Cell Towers nixed in 7-hour Monterey Planning Commission

Los Angeles, California: Deal with Verizon; letter from Mayor to FCC

  • “in exchange for amenities such as free Wi-Fi in Skid Row and at recreation centers, $400,000 of scholarship money, and launching an innovation center in the city, L.A. is charging Verizon just $175 per device per year for 10 years for up to 1,000 installations, plus the cost of electricity.” (LA Times)
  • “In a letter to the FCC, Mayor Eric Garcetti urged the commission to rewrite the ruling before its adoption, arguing that the decision would “insert confusion into the market, and sow mistrust between my technology team and the carriers with whom we have already reached agreements.”” (LA Times)

 

News Stories

LA Times: 5G service rolls out — but not without controversy

San Jose, California: Negotiated agreement

“officials made improved access to areas with low internet participation a precondition for reducing fees…agreement set tiered costs per network node installation, with lower fees for companies deploying more nodes. Along with this incentive, three companies pledged to contribute a total of $24 million over the next decade to a digital inclusion fund.” (GovTech)

News Stories

September 2018 The Future of 5G: The Bitter Battle for Local Control

 

Note: These were compiled from EHT research of various sources and a special thank you to Physicians for Safe Technology, My Streets My Choice and Last Tree Laws for their extensive resources. Please contact EHT to add your Cities information.

Other Important Websites on 5G and Small Cells.

Whatis5g.info

MyStreetMyChoice

Win19.org on Small Cells and 5G

Americans For Responsible Technology

Last Tree Laws

Physicians for Safe Technology 5G Resources

International 5G Appeal