The City Council unanimously passed a wireless telecommunications facility ordinance Tuesday night, effective immediately under an urgency measure. City Council members, Planning Commission members, citizens and wireless company officials collaborated on the ordinance over the past three months, finding what those involved called a middle ground from which they can continue working.
“It’s been a herculean effort. Those of us who do this on a daily basis know that sometimes it’s brutal trying to battle the conflicting goals and demands,” said Tom Miller of Verizon. “I think going forward we can all work together with the framework that’s been done so far.”
The ordinance, effective immediately, fills the void left by the construction, which expired Tuesday. The council also approved sending the ordinance through the regular process, introducing it last night for a Feb. 6 public hearing.
, wireless providers would need one of two permits for antenna installation depending on the location of the antenna, with installation occurring primarily in commercial areas in camouflaged constructions.
Moving forward, the Planning Commission or community development director reviews a company’s application. While facilities in commercial areas removed from residences need only administrative approval, other applications will need a conditional use permit. A conditional use permit requires a Planning Commission public hearing.
Applications for installation require detailed information on size, appearance, technology and reason for location and must notify residents in the nearby area.
The issue of a wireless telecommunications ordinance first surfaced in October 2010 when ExteNet and T-Mobile applied with the Public Works Department to install cell phone antennae (towers) within the City. At the time, only regulations existed regarding satellite dishes and antennae attached to roofs--not those for cell phones.
This lack of regulation prompted outcry from the community, resulting in city officials placing a moratorium on cell towers until an ordinance was crafted. The officials, who claimed the company should not be retroactively included in the moratorium. However, Judge George Miram overturned that complaint in November, ruling the lawful inclusion of ExteNet.
However, City Attorney Gus Guinan said that Extenet and T-Mobile’s existing applications would be handled under the old rules instead of the new ordinance.
and set to expire Tuesday, prompting the quick movement by the government, residents and industry officials in crafting an ordinance.
“I’m hoping that you will adopt [the ordinance] and give this ordinance a chance to work,” Guinan said Tuesday night. “It’s the best thing we can produce to compromise [and] preserve the beauty of the residential neighborhoods of this town.”