Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission Re-evaluates Cell Towers

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With unanimous approval, Kentucky’s Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission approved an amendment to the language governing cell towers. The Commission recognized that restrictions governing large cell towers may not be appropriate for small cell development. “Basically that is a blind spot for the city zoning regulations. This is an intent to get ahead of 5G technology and create some regulations,” explained Planning and Community Development Director, Eric Cockley.

As the State-Journal reports, the discussion began when AT&T contacted the city about its future rollout plans. Both sides expressed an interest in reviewing current ordinances and attempting to be proactive in identifying possible problems. The amended wording will make it easier for AT&T, and others, to install small cell units but keep provisions that still require developers to adhere to the city’s aesthetic and historical standards. 

“We crafted the regulations to push the providers as much as possible to do what we call non-tower small cell systems, which essentially means find locations to co-locate these equipment items on either existing poles or on top of a building – something like that so no cell tower will need to be constructed,” said Cockley. “Theoretically we hope to mitigate as many of these as possible.”  

“The city and county worked really hard to make the regulations as similar as possible while recognizing our unique differences in governments,” noted County Planning and Zoning Director, Robert Hewitt. “Otherwise the regulations relating to placement, sighting and technology are the same. The filing fees are the same.”

New tower application fees are $1,000. The co-location fee is $500 for up to five antennas on an existing cell tower, utility pole, or other structure. A charge of $100 per antenna is added when there are more than five per location.

“I would assume that something that’s smaller and a little more attractive, in my opinion, would probably be accepted by the public in the same manner,” said Commissioner, Keith Lee. “If you have better reception and more bars and if you can hear me now, everybody’s for it.” 

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