The Comprehensive Antennas Proposal
We find the need for a Comprehensive Antennas Proposal (CAP), to increase protections from the adverse impacts of each Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) for all residents. Our CAP revises sections of the Zoning Ordinance, and of related County Code regulations, policies, and provisions. In summary, CAP:
• Guarantees fundamental resident protections to transparent information, notice of government actions, and meaningful input in the review processes;
• Ensures safety and protects aesthetic qualities throughout the County;
• Prevents hazards and nuisances;
• Minimizes adverse visual or auditory impacts of Wireless Telecommunication Facilities, particularly in public rights-of-way, residential zones, and in close proximity to sensitive uses;
• Facilitates the reasonable and balanced delivery of quality wireless telecommunication facilities and services; and
• Requires that review processes be fully funded by the applicants, and for the County to receive just compensation for any land occupied or rented.
1. Clear and Transparent Regulatory Standards
DPS must issue formal Zoning Interpretations and must post notice of these interpretations on the County website.
Zoning Ordinance clarifications distinguish the Section that regulates antenna attachments to Existing Structures to those existing structures that are not primarily designed for WTFs; the Section entitled “Telecommunications Towers” concerns structures that are primarily designed for WTFs.
Zoning Ordinance regulations, such as those that govern Signs and Utility Distribution Lines, and which define existing structure height, apply to WTF installations.
(Note: The 11th- hour re-interpretations of the Zoning Ordinance, used as evidence of need for ZTA 18-02, demonstrate the importance for clarity and transparency before more ZTAs.)
2. More Stringent Application Standards
Owners of all property utilized by the WTF must be co-applicants.
The application must provide independently verifiable information of the applicant’s need, and demonstrate that the proposal is the least obtrusive means of achieving the applicant’s need.
Qualified engineers must certify the WTF, as proposed, to be:
• safe from catastrophic failure or damage to surrounding properties,
• in compliance with RF emissions standards,
• in compliance with (strict, new) County noise regulations.
The fee for a WTF application must be adequate to cover the costs of the processing, reviewing, and monitoring of the application for the proposed facility; fees must not rely upon revenues from taxpayers. (Note: regulatory revisions promised by June 2018)
3. Fair and Consistent Review Standards
TFCG and DPS shall receive and fairly consider written comments from the public, submitted in advance of a WTF application review.
Siting Standardization: Subsequent to a TFCG action, the WTF building permit application or CU zoning application must be filed within 90 days of that TFCG Recommendation and must attach the TFCG Recommendation.
4. Fair Access to OZAH & Board of Appeals
Only proposed co-locations and modifications that meet FCC Spectrum Act standards shall by-pass the local opportunities for hearing and appeal.
OZAH and Board of Appeals rules, policies, and practices must ensure that all persons, regardless of their means, legal representation, or group affiliation, shall be provided fair and equitable treatment.
A fully-funded, operational Office of the People’s Counsel is essential.
5. Notice to Affected Residents
Timely notice is required for affected residents prior to the filing of a WTF application.
Notice of the proposed facility shall be provided through:
• Posted signage at the proposed location and by mail;
• Temporary mock-up of the WTF;
• An informational meeting for the affected community.
Notice of DPS-issued permit is provided to affected residents.
High-priority siting locations, generally in Industrial Zones, are exempt from Notice requirements.
6. Sensible WTF Permitting Standards
Qualified engineers must certify compliance with safety standards, RF emissions standards, and new, strict noise & vibration standards.
No final permit shall be issued until the site has been completely restored, including removal of a prior pole or equipment being replaced, and landscaped as promised in submitted plans.
DPS must conduct a field inspection to ensure proper completion before issuing a final permit.
The WTF permit application filed with DPS must post/display the TFCG permit number.
7. More Stringent Monitoring and Enforcement
Qualified-Expert Compliance Checks
Enhanced ROW Tree Protections and Reliance upon Trees for Concealment
10-year WTF Permit Expirations
“Use-it-or-Lose-It” Requirement for a WTF and its Equipment
8. Road and Height Standards for Micro-Towers
A WTF is prohibited along a right-of-way that DOT has classified as a “Residential” or “Rustic” street or road.
No WTF in a right-of-way shall exceed 50 feet in height. Standards also strictly limit height of a WTF beyond the height of the prior existing structure.
Preferences and incentives are for WTFs on County owned-and-controlled poles, including P-3 partnerships. (Note: Technology has been improving. See “Smart Fusion” poles in Huntington Beach, CA, for a community-compatible option.)
9. Sensitive Use
Standards are established to protect any Sensitive Use from the adverse impacts of a WTF:
• Setback and Proximity Standards
• Lower-Priority Siting Locations
• Community Notice Process
"Sensitive Use" is defined as any structure intended or used for occupants to sleep, learn, or convalesce.
10. Strict Standards for a WTF
The WTF must be a stealth or concealed, which is defined as a “Completely Concealed Facility.”
Co-locations must not diminish concealments. Thus, these strict concealment standards protect our communities from expansions through the Spectrum Act, too.
11. Equipment – Vaulted, Concealed, & Minimized
Equipment in public rights-of-way must be vaulted, if possible, and otherwise shall meet strict standards for size and complete concealment.
Most equipment not in public rights-of-way must meet the strict concealment standards.
12. Fair and Transparent Franchising Process
Meaningful notice of prospective agreements and ROW installations.
Franchisees must fairly compensate the County.
Franchisees must provide fair and equitable services within the County.
Franchisees must be held to terms and conditions of the franchise agreement, and to underlying public commitments.
MC4Tstrongly supports creation of a resident-centric Wireless Telecommunications Task Force.
This task force should represent all County residents and have a clear mission to develop and present comprehensive proposals to the Council no later than July 1, 2019 on the proper, efficient and transparent management of cell pole zoning and administrative rules.
We have seen ugly and the sloppy results of 30 years of haphazard and mismanaged cell tower rules and regulations that are unfriendly and cumbersome to residents.
It is unacceptable to now further bend those same dysfunctional processes and rules to allow unfettered access to residential neighborhoods.
DON'T LOCK OUT PUBLIC.Concerned residents have much information AND very valuable and workable ideas to share with the County Council.
Montgomery County can learn much from experiences of other successful communities that have engaged with residents on the complex issues surrounding wireless telecommunications facilities.
Montgomery County can and must build world class zoning ordinances and rules that truly benefit all residents and make us a leading example of good government.
Please WORK WITH US!
Build a Comprehensive Antennas Program for Montgomery County
First posted: Sept 16, 2018
MC4T urges Council President Hans Reimer and the entire County Council to
WORK WITH US!
to build a world class Comprehensive Antennas Program
forthe residents of Montgomery County!
Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers
THE COUNTY COUNCIL MUST ENGAGE WITH RESIDENTS.
FORM A WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS TASK FORCE, NOW!