Baton Rouge Getting Tough on Towers

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Residents in the city-parish of Baton Rouge, LA have been struggling with the desire to embrace emerging technology while at the same time trying to minimize its impact on the landscape. Although the Metro Council examined the governing rules last year, an outcry from homeowners has them up for reconsideration, reports The Advocate.

If the latest set of ordinances are adopted at the council meeting later this month, additional restrictions will be placed on cell tower companies looking to operate in the area. Prior to construction, wireless providers would be required to send notifications via first class mail to all homeowners and HOA’s within 300 feet of a proposed cell site regardless of its configuration. The notices would need to be mailed out within two days of the permit application, and the site in question would then be marked with a bright orange sign. An additional mailing would also need to go out to the Metro Council member overseeing that jurisdiction.

The revised version of the ordinances would also require the wireless provider to consider maps submitted by the HOA’s noting their preferred locations for the pole’s construction. Homeowners may be unaware that the “best” aesthetic site might not be the one that provides the best coverage, according to The Advocate

If a developer selects a site that does not agree with the suggestions from the residents, the new ordinance says the residents must be given a written explanation with technical details explaining why one site is better than another.

When it comes down to actually constructing new cell sites, the structures must be “as visually inconspicuous as reasonably possible.” The revised ordinance includes a list of preferred locations for new antennas, starting with existing utility poles. Streetlights are next on the list, followed by a new pole. Making use of traffic poles is frowned upon, and non-residential sites trump residential ones.

Any wireless provider that makes it through the gauntlet of the proposed revised ordinances could then proceed with construction and would pay a fee of $1,000 for any new poles or support structures. An existing pole repurposed for wireless service would incur a $500 fee. Going forward, fees of $250 would be collected for use of the right-of-way.

The Metro Council will meet and vote on the revisions later in November.  

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