Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers

First Posted May 15, 2018

OPEN LETTER TO 

COUNCIL PRESIDENT HANS RIEMER


May 14, 2018

Council President Hans Riemer,
Montgomery County Council

 Dear Council President Riemer,

MC4T is both surprised and disappointed that action by the full Council on ZTA 18-02 has been scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, May 15, when the recent revisions by the Planning Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee were only publicly posted on Friday afternoon, May 11th - at the start of Mother's Day weekend.
 

The Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (MC4T.ORG) continues to strongly oppose ZTA 18-02. 

 While MC4T believes that the changes put forward by Council Member Leventhal at the PHED work session on May 3rd were positive movement toward enhanced protections for residents of single family neighborhoods (these changes were supported by both Council Member Floreen and you) -- we do NOT believe that ZTA 18-02 provides an equitable solution for the ALL residents of Montgomery County. 

 The “redacted” version of ZTA18-02 as approved by the PHED Committee is NOT a substitute for a more thoughtful zoning text amendment that incorporates PROVEN best practices from other innovative jurisdictions. 

We remain distressed that ZTA 18-02 ignores public testimony that was overwhelmingly in opposition to ZTA 18-02 as presented at the April 3rd Council hearing - the only hearing on this bill where testimony was allowed. 

If the "redacted" ZTA-18-02 is passed by the Council, we expect a virtual tsunami of backlogged applications to put new antennae everywhere in the County's commercial and commercial/residential zones.  (The Chair of the Tower Committee testified that there are currently 116 "tabled" and pending wireless facility applications.) 


  • ZTA 18-02 does not ensure equitable protection of the rights of residents regardless of where they live – single family home, townhouse or apartment building. ZTA 18-02 offers no meaningful setbacks for schools, daycare centers and multi-family dwellings (apartments and condominiums) in the Commercial/Residential (C/R) zones where set backs are ONLY 10 feet. 

  • ZTA 18-02 will do nothing to fix the ridiculously inadequate fee structures for wireless facilities applications.  As a result, Montgomery County taxpayers are subsidizing the wireless industry application process.  (Fees have not changed since 2003.)
  • ZTA 18-02 will not require wireless facilities to have the least possible impact on our communities.
  • ZTA 18-02 does not provide transparency, proper notice and fair consideration of resident’s concerns in the review and placement process of wireless facilities.
  • ZTA 18-02 does nothing to prevent documented non-compliance/and improper cellular installations, because there are no post-construction inspections to ensure correct placement. Nor does DPS rigorously cross verify Tower Committee approvals against data in applications for permits. ZTA 18-02 does nothing to review existing towers for safety or aging of the towers. 


MC4T urges the entire Council to work with the community to craft a truly comprehensive and responsive Towers and Antennas Zoning Ordinance, and not rush through poorly drafted, one-sided legislation. 

Sincerely,

 Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers
www.mc4t.org

 cc: All Members of the Montgomery County Council

​​​​Montgomery County Council Expected to Vote May 15th on ZTA 18-02

Don’t Let Antennas and Cell Poles Ruin Our Neighborhoods!
Fight to keep all residents, homes and neighborhoods protected.


Council President Riemer has scheduled action on ZTA 18-02 May 15th by the full Council Council at 1:20PM in Rockville.  

A vote is expected. We anticipate that ZTA 18-02 will pass the Council, but not unanimously.  


MC4T remains strongly opposed to ZTA 18-02.  


The attached letter was sent to Mr. Riemer and the entire Council last night. MC4T continues to fight for a comprehensive and responsive ZTA that protects ALL residents from intrusive wireless facilities.


The expected Counil action follows just two business days after a "redacted" ZTA 18-02 was posted on the County website reflecting revisions recommended at the Coucil's PHED Committee at work session on May 3rd.


At the May 3rd PHED meeting, Council Member George Leventhal proposed a number of technical revisions to the draft ZTA.  These included retention of existing 60' mimimum setbacks and a mimimum height of 50' for facilities mounted on building rooftops for wireless facilities in residential zones with single family homes. (The zones include Residential, Rural Residential and Planned Unit Developments.) 


Mr. Leventhal's proposed changes were positive first steps and were approved by the PHED Committee.
However, as noted above the actual final form of these PHED amendments to the ZTA was not made public until last Friday afternoon - just before start of Mother's Day weekend.  


The setbacks and minimum heights listed above do NOT apply to multi-family residences (apartments/condos) in Residential Mutlti-Unit, Commercial Residential, Employment or Industrial Zones where setbacks are only 10 feet and mimimum building heights will be just 20 feet. 


MC4T does NOT believe these inconsistenly reduced setbacks and heights afford equitable treatment for all residents of Montgomery County.


Mr. Leventhal also raised concerns about access fees levied for attachment of wireless equipment on County owned public rights of way.  (County staff member eventually answered definitively that the County receives no payments for wireless facilities attached to electric utility company poles on County owned public rights of way.)


Council President Riemer's hastily scheduled action provides very short notice of today's expected vote. 


Nonetheless, we do ask that you make every effort to attend today at 1:20pm at the Council chambers in Rockville to clearly show community displeasure at this rushed call for a Council vote.


And, we'd greatly appreciate your advance commitment to attend. Please RSVP to controlcelltowers@gmail.com and let us know you WILL be there on May 15th. 


Contact us with any questions.






Every cell pole has a story


The cell pole at right above was one of three installed in 2016 in North Potomac without first completing requred conditional use hearings. 

 SEE DETAILS BELOW: County Council Vote on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 18-02 is Tuesday, May 15, 2018 @1:20pm

Norbeck

Last revised: March 6, 2018

This 68' pole with antennas on Brickyard Road was NEVER formally approved to be here. Read the story (see page 15) on how on the County allowed this and four other cellpoles in Potomac to be  moved to "adjacent sites" in 2011 without public notice or public input.

Langley Park

MC4T is fighting for fair, transparent and accurate regulation of cell poles and cell towers to minimize adverse impacts to surrounding land uses, respect the harmony and aesthetic character of our communities, and protect the health and saftety of all residents. Join us!

This cell pole installed in 2011 along  Norbeck Road was supposed to be on opposite side of street within the utility distribution lines, but was moved. It is one of three cell poles in Norbeck area north of the ICC that were NEVER formally approved for their current sites. 

North potomac

strategic planning

This 57' cell pole installed in 2017 sits just 27' away from a four-story apartment block in Langley Park. It is one of three large cell poles within 900' radius that are sited very near apartments. Current County ordinance requires 60' setbacks from single and duplex residential units, but has NO minimum setbacks for cellpoles installed on utility poles near apartment buildings.