“The Future of Wireless:” Unanimous Approval of Small Cells by County Council
The County Council approved standards for installing small cell antennas on existing utility poles in commercial and industrial areas after the plan was met with protest by residents, reported Bethesda Magazine.
Residents testified during public hearings about health concerns related to radiation, aesthetic issues, and inundating residential areas with antennas. The standards will not allow the installation of small cells on homes or townhouses but will lessen the requirements and lower the height limits for buildings where antennas are permitted.
“This is really intended to make some modest changes to reflect the reality of our world,” councilmember Nancy Floreen said about the zoning changes. “Cell service is highly relevant to our residents. This is the wave of the future and we have an obligation to serve all our residents.”
In addition to the installation of small cells on existing utility poles, the approved legislation enables the antennas to be installed on existing streetlights and limits their extension to no more than 15 feet above the existing pole height, reported Bethesda Magazine. There were also concerns regarding misinformation that passage of the legislation would lead to a proliferation of small cell antennas in residential communities; council zoning advisor Jeff Zyontz said the legislation would not change the current zoning requirements regarding this matter.
According to Council President Hans Riemer, “This is really about the future of wireless and whether the device that you have today will be able to meet the needs you have for however you want to use your phone, your laptop or whatever device you have in five or 10 years.”