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Cell Tower Development Standards

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Local governments should prepare by reviewing existing land use regulations concerning wireless telecommunication infrastructure. This starts at the local government level by reviewing existing land use development standards and determining ways to enhance and strengthen existing Ordinances therefore to better achieve the communities desires for managing future wireless infrastructure deployment. The following items should be included in all land use development standards pertaining to the deployment of infrastructure for wireless telecommunications.

  1. Intent of Regulations

    To clarify the intent and purposes for the proposed regulations, this section should be updated to reflect current State and other regulatory efforts on the wireless industry. The items listed in this section identify goals and objectives of the related development standards, and establish ground rules for tower deployment. Findings of fact for wireless communication facility approvals and denials are formulated on the “Purposes and Intent” of the standards and therefore a necessary inclusion in text revisions.

  2. Definitions

    This section provides definitions that are applicable to Wireless Communications Facilities (itself a defined term), with the intent to simply understanding of the regulations and their applicability. A comprehensive list of definitions reduces varying interpretations of the Ordinance and adds clarity to related issues.

  3. Applicability

    This section should specifically include the types of facilities that are regulated into the text, as well as exclude certain types of wireless communications facilities from the regulations. The excluded items are those that have some level of either State or Federal preemption associated with their services. For example, amateur radio facilities, satellite receivers, regular maintenance of the facilities, substitution of antenna with certain provisions, government owned facilities for public communication services, and AM/FM/Television broadcast facilities.

  4. Uses by District

    This section illustrates the zoning districts where different types of deemed wireless communication facilities could be permitted and what level of review is required for such facilities.

  5. Development Standards

    Development standards address compatibility issues between locations of wireless infrastructure and existing lands uses, for example, setbacks, height, structural integrity, construction material, lighting, co location feasibility, color, landscaping, fencing, signage, aircraft coordination, and compatibility with community character.

  6. Interference with Public Safety Communications

    To protect and maintain the integrity and objectionable technical interference from wireless telecommunication providers, this section includes criteria that must be met by the wireless industry.

  7. Master Planning

    The development of a Master Plan by researching all existing wireless telecommunication facility information, identifying publicly owned properties, terrain data, and other related technical data. This information is combined into a database that is used by our engineering group along with state-of-the-art Radio Frequency engineering software to design the Master Wireless Plan. The mapping illustrates wireless infrastructure deployment patterns to date along with coverage predictions. The community can then see where existing coverage gaps exist and use this information as a planning tool for managing future infrastructure builds.

  8. Expert Review

    Due to the complexity of the methodology or analysis required to review some applications related to wireless telecommunications facilities, staff may require a technical site plan or application review by a third party expert. Cost for this review should be borne by the applicant so as not to place the financial burden on the local government.

Should you, as a municipal planner or a concerned citizen have an interest in what your community can do, please feel free to contact Cityscape Consulting. You might also look at our webpage on Wireless Telecommunications Master planning.