As wireless towers and other facilities continue to sprout at a rapid pace, regulations that balance your community’s needs and those of wireless providers must keep up. Local governments and their planners should watch two developments in this area.
First, the FCC is now considering adopting rules that could severely limit whether a city control changes in an existing wireless facility. The rules could allow wireless providers to “enhance” an existing facility by adding multiple equipment cabinets and twenty-foot extensions—without your approval. Concerns about this can still be shared with the FCC.
Second, the U.S. Supreme Court could also impact city planners. A pending case will address whether a city that denies a wireless-facility application must explain its denial in writing. The key issue in T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell is whether it is sufficient for a city to reference the minutes of its public hearing — where the city denied the application after an outpouring of opposition — or whether the city must list its reasons in the written denial.
In the most recent issue of the American Planning Association’s Planning & Environmental Law magazine, I discuss these developments, and explore what they mean for local planners. You can read more in “The Complications of Colocation: What the FCC’s Rulemaking May Mean for your Community” and “Is a Local Government’s Decision in Writing? The U.S. Supreme Court to Rule.”