The review of small cells by the Ocean City (MD) Mayor and Council caused a verbal sparring match during a recent meeting, reported The Dispatch. Last year, Council approved a proposal by Crown Castle to install nine small cells in a neighborhood. Now, the telecom is asking for approval on four more nodes, and tempers are flaring.
According to Crown Castle Government Relations Specialist Trey Spear, “These are the last four. Most of the puzzle pieces are in place, and we just have to put in these last four.” Spear added that Crown Castle has been diligent in working with the city and its staff to locate the least intrusive locations for the small cells, especially considering right-of-way issues, per The Dispatch. Councilman Tony DeLuca countered with, “I’m certainly going to be voting no on this. It’s no secret I’m against any small cell towers in our R-1 [single-family home] neighborhoods.”
Councilman John Gehrig questioned if there was ever an end to the requests.“It’s been give an inch, take a mile with these the whole time,” he said. “They’re on the Boardwalk, and they’re in our busy areas, and that makes sense. Now, you want to put more in our residential neighborhoods.”
Gehrig also accused Crown Castle of “acquiring real estate for the future” with the small cell location requests. “There are no connectivity needs, and there has never been an issue with demand.” At this point in the meeting, trouble erupted. Gehrig went after Councilman Mark Paddack for previously signing off on a small cell tower for the Caine Keys neighborhood. Paddack told Gehrig he would gladly have one of the small cell towers in front of his home. Then, Gehrig told Paddack to “shut up,” according to The Dispatch.
After gavel-banging by the Council President, the meeting got back on track, and Councilman Dennis Dare said, “Crown Castle has shown a willingness to work with us, and maybe we can minimize the exposure and the impact on the viewsheds. At some point, 5G is coming. These towers are important now, and every year they are going to be more important.
“We’ll have people saying why didn’t you provide for that?” Dare added. “This is the groundwork for 5G, and we need to plan for the future.”
After a council vote, only one tower, proposed for an R-3 zone, was approved, which “met the council’s prescribed guidelines.” The additional three towers requested by Crown Castle were denied due to the R-1 zoning status.
November 18, 2019