Baton Rouge Issues Small Cell Ordinances After 16 Month Process

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UPDATE After nearly 16 months of work, the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved a 35-page ordinance governing the placement of 5G small cells. The Advocate reported that the project began after AT&T began installing small cells in the rights-of-way in front of residents’ homes. Neighbors and homeowners’ associations complained about the small cells, saying the equipment was an eyesore and would diminish property values.

Under the new ordinance, providers are required to mail a notice via first-class postage to all landowners and homeowners’ associations within two days of filing for a construction permit. Telecoms must notify any property within a 300-foot radius of the proposed site. In addition, telecoms must notify the Metro Council member representing the area, and place a “blaze orange placard” at the site, reported The Advocate.  

One unique provision allows homeowners’ associations to submit maps that indicate preferred locations for small cells. It also outlines a list of optimal installation structures, including existing utility poles and streetlights, before a new facility is recommended. 

Another provision that’s different from an earlier ordinance includes aesthetics. Small cells must conform to a design manual published by the city-parish, along with other aesthetic requirements, to make the equipment as “visually inconspicuous as reasonably possible.”

According to The Advocate, the ordinance allows telecoms to combine up to 25 individual site applications from a fee standpoint. The first five batched applications cost $500; additional applications are $100 each. If applicants want to construct a new support structure, the cost will be $1,000. The ordinance also sets a $250 annual fee for continued use of parish rights-of-way.

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