You Asked. We Answered.
At the Inquiry Answer Service, we answer, on average, more than 300 questions for our subscribers each month. We consult a variety of sources to create a custom research packet — which may include APA publications, sample ordinances and plans, articles and literature from partner organizations, and the most current information available online — for each question.
Each month, we choose one question to feature here, so you can see what your peers around the country are asking and how we answered. When your organization subscribes to PAS, you and your colleagues will also have access to previous editions.
How are communities regulating small-cell telecommunications facilities?
I am working on code amendments for the new mini/micro cells (cylinders about 2 feet long and 14 inches in diameter) and am wondering how jurisdictions are regulating them on private property.
Mini- or micro-cell wireless technology refers to smaller, low-power wireless telecommunications antennas typically installed on existing structures or poles. Proponents of this type of infrastructure praise it for being able to fill gaps in coverage and boost network capacity while eliminating the need for large monopoles that are more strictly regulated at the local level. The small size of these facilities also means they are more easily installed on existing buildings or structures and may be less aesthetically objectionable than larger cell towers. However, the shorter ranges of these antennae mean that more of them are required.
The examples below show how some communities are explicitly addressing small-cell telecommunications facilities in their codes. Most of these communities give preferential treatment to mini- and micro-cell facilities over traditional "macro" antennae.
Generally speaking, the trend in wireless facilities away from large freestanding towers to camouflaged/stealth antenna placement on existing buildings and structures is compatible with small-cell technologies. Consequently, many communities may deem new standards unnecessary, choosing instead to simply prioritize collocated and building-mounted antennas (without defining mini- or micro-cells as distinct facility types).
- Boise (Idaho), City of. 2015. City Code. Title 11: Zoning. Chapter 11-06: Use Regulations. Section 11-06-04: Public/Institutional Use Standards. Subsection 2: Communication Uses. Part A(5): "Microcell" Wireless Communications Facilities. http://cityclerk.cityofboise.org/media/262806/11-entire.pdf
- Dublin (Ohio), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title IX: General Regulations. Chapter 99: Wireless Communications Regulations. www.amlegal.com/library/oh/dublin.shtml
- Ferndale (Washington), City of. 2015. Municipal Code. Title 18: Zoning. Chapter 18.66: Regulations for the Siting, Co-Locating and Modification of Wireless Communications Facilities. www.codepublishing.com/WA/Ferndale/html/Ferndale18/Ferndale1866.html
- Longboat Key (Florida), Town of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 15: Land Development Code. Chapter 158: Zoning Code. Article IV: General Regulations. Division 3: Commercial Revitalization. Section 158.200: Personal Wireless Service Facilities. Section 158.201: Personal Wireless Service Facility Development Standards. www.municode.com/library/fl/longboat_key/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT15LADECO_CH158ZOCO_ARTIVGERE_DIV3CORE_158.200PEWISEFA
- Longmont (Colorado), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 15: Land Development Code. Chapter 15.05: Development Standards. Section 15.05.170: Wireless Telecommunication Facilities. www.municode.com/library/co/longmont/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_TIT15LADECO_CH15.05DEST_15.05.170WITEFA.
- Rapid City (South Dakota), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Title 17: Zoning. Chapter 17.04: Definitions. Chapter 17.50: Supplementary Regulations. Article V: Specific Uses. Section 17.50.400: Microcell wireless communications facilities. www.amlegal.com/codes/client/rapid-city_sd/
- Shelton (Washington), City of. 2015. Municipal Code. Title 20: Zoning. Chapter 20.66: Wireless Communications Facilities. www.codepublishing.com/WA/Shelton/#!/shelton20/Shelton2066.html
- Virginia Beach (Virginia), City of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Appendix A: Zoning Ordinance. Article 1: General Provisions. Section 111: Definitions. Article 2: General Requirements and Procedures Applicable to All Districts. Part A: Regulations Relating to Lots, Yards, Heights, etc. Section 207: Building-Mounted Antennas, Small Wireless Facilities, and Temporary Communication Towers. Part C: Conditional Uses and Structures. Section 232: Communication Towers; Building Mounted Antennas; Small Wireless Facilities; part k. www.municode.com/library/va/virginia_beach/codes/code_of_ordinances
- Weaverville (North Carolina), Town of. 2015. Code of Ordinances. Part II: Code of Ordinances. Chapter 36: Zoning. Article XIV: Telecommunications Facilities. www.municode.com/library/nc/weaverville/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH36ZO_ARTXIVTEFA
Related PAS Products
- Read, Anna. 2015. "Local Control and Wireless Facilities Siting." PAS QuickNotes No. 55, April. www.planning.org/pas/quicknotes/previous.htm