Without prior notice from local government officials or from Verizon, residents of the Derby Hills subdivision in Sandy Springs, GA recently came home to find contractors digging in their yards to install 34-foot mini cell towers. Furious residents reached out to legislators. Without receiving a response to their inquiries at a state level, they planned to attend a February 4 city council meeting to vocalize their frustration and opposition.
Neighbor Newspapers, a Marietta Daily Journal affiliate, contacted Verizon for comment. “The antennas are being installed 500 feet apart, with Verizon planning to place 10 in Derby Hills, though seven will use existing utility poles,” said Kate Jay, a Verizon spokeswoman.
Georgia aligned with the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and 3rd Report and Order (WTB Docket 16-421) to streamline the deployment of wireless broadband in the public rights-of-way by enacting GA House Bill 184 in October of 2019. Utility companies, therefore, can install the antennas in Georgia without regulations from local municipalities and antennas can be placed 500 feet apart to reduce gaps in wireless service, as stated in the order.
One Derby Hills resident who requested anonymity in an interview with Neighbor Newspapers, said they spoke to a Verizon representative about the lack of notice. “They did admit they made a mistake and should not have done any of the work without notification of the owners,” the resident said.
Jay confirmed that Verizon is expected to give at least 72 hours’ notice about the installations. “In residential areas we utilize door hangers with notification and an inbox for inquiries,” she said. “These are placed on residents’ homes three to five business days prior to construction teams deploying to the area.”
“When we decide to place a new pole, we try to place these on dividing property lines and we will never elect to place a pole directly in front of a residence,” said Jay. “When siting a location, our field teams are directed to review the location from a 360-degree perspective to see what impacts are presented.”