Updated October 24, 2018


ZTA 18-11

Council President Hans Reimer at the request of

County Executive Ike Leggett

introduced  ZTA 18-11 on July 27th -

a proposed ordinance to allow faster, easier installation of wireless cell towers

INSIDE residential neighborhoods.

Don’t Let the Council rush through a badly written ordinance that will allow

Antennas and Cell Poles to Ruin Our Neighborhoods!
Fight to keep all residents, homes and neighborhoods protected from big and intrusive cell poles.

You can download .pdf version of proposed ordinance as amended with analyst information from County website here.

Call and write your Councilmembers today. 

Urge them to VOTE NO on ZTA 18-11! 

(see list of allCounty Councilemail addresses below.)

Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov  ​

Its happening in Montgomery County!  This cell pole installed in 2016 is just 37 feet from home in North Potomac - well inside the current minimum 60' required setback.  County made NO inspection nor any effort to correct non-conformance.  Under ZTA 18-11 a pole this close to residence wouldbe fully legal. No notice. No input.

This is March 2018 photo of cell pole on Glen Road in Potomac. This is one of many "rats nests" in Montgomery County - comprised of exposed wires protruding from multiple equipment cabinets haphazardly bolted to sides of cell poles. County's failure to mandate design standards allows these types of facilities. And, nobody performs inspections! Many hundreds more will soon be allowed under ZTA 18-11 - just 30 feet from front doors.

Compare this January 2018 photo of botched cell pole installation just 30 feet from house in Santa Rosa, CA to images below from Mongtomery County...

Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers

What ZTA 18-11 Really Means:
Hundreds More Super Tall “Small Cells” inside Neighborhoods

 ZTA 18-11 makes it MUCH easier and faster for Big Wireless to deploy microwave transmitters on existing poles just 30 feet -or closer - to the walls of single family and duplex residences. As if it wasn’t easy enough already! (See actual photos below of close proximity cell poles currently installed in residential neighborhoods in Montgomery County.) 

For residents in legacy neighborhoods with aboveground utilities “limited use” zoning rules will apply that are VERY unfavorable to residents. "Limited use" means cell pole applications will receive perfunctory reviews and expedited approvals in a matter of days or weeks before construction crews show up.

“Small cells” are NOT small !! Multiple  wireless antennas each up to 4 feet tall will  be bolted atop existing poles. (e.g. Electric utility distribution poles, light poles, lamp posts and signs)

  • Along with top mounted antennas, equipment cabinets as big as full-size refrigerators (20 cubic feet) will be allowed to protrude from sides of each pole or be mounted on the ground nearby. 
  • In almost every case, the existing pole will need to be removed and “replaced” with taller and fatter pole to support added weight of hundreds of pounds of antennas and equipment. This new ZTA allows bigger "replacements" with no notice. No Input.
  • There are no restrictions on the total height of small cells.  Some small cells already installed in Montgomery County residential neighborhoods are almost 80 feet tall!
  • These cell poles are obtrusive and unsightly.  The County has minimal cell pole design standards.  ZTA 18-11 pays lip service to concealment of facilities. (And no real inspection nor enforcement regime.)

Catch-22: Under current procedures, residents:

  • Won’t be told in advance when a small cell pole site is selected (unless you know where to find the information).  No signage is required at proposed sites.
  • Have no say about the actual siting before the pole is installed.  There is no County agency with procedures to accept and consider public input regarding proposed wireless facilities in the public rights of way. That's right. Nobody at the County Government wants or will review your input. Nobody! 
  • And, just in case you do try to object after a cell pole is installed, the ZTA 18-11 reduces already limited options for appeals, and ties the hands of OZAH hearing examiners.

The odds are not in your favor:  For neighborhoods with above-ground utilities this ordinance will facilitate rapid installation of hundreds of cell poles that can be just 30-feet from front doors.  Under "limited use" rules:

  • Almost no design standards will mask the installation,
  • No regard or consideration for the overall aesthetic impact,
  • No limitations on how tall or closely spaced cell poles can be, and
  • And, based on history of seven years of small cell installations in the County, inspections - if they do occur, will be minimal. 

Small Cell permits do NOT expire. Ever.  So, these small cells are going be around for a very long time.

And, you are being told by County leaders that this is “progress”!!

Updated: October 24, 2018