The Harford County Council on November 14 approved the permitting of cell towers in a handful of zones where they were previously prohibited, principally high density R3 and R4 residential zones, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The bill, 17-018, was amended to require cell towers be set back from adjoining properties by a distance equal to 125 percent of the height of the tower. The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Michael Perrone, still needs approval by County Executive Barry Glassman.
Perrone said the legislation was prompted by a recent case in his district where there are few alternatives to locate a tower in Joppatowne with a relatively flat terrain and comprised of mostly R3 and R4 residential zones. Residents near where he lived recently opposed a 120-foot tower by T-Mobile near the Gunpowder River waterfront for aesthetic reasons. An alternative site, a church steeple would be a solution to the coverage problem and a “win-win” for the church according to Perrone but setback rules prohibited the siting.
Councilman Jim McMahan criticized the initial version of the bill, saying the existing law on cell towers and Perrone’s updates did not address the safety factor of what happens when a tower falls and there are structures nearby, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“As someone who worked in the radio business, I know these towers do come down sometimes,” McMahan told the Sun. McMahan’s comments prompted the 125 percent setback rule from Perrone and met with a 6-to-0 approval.
Other zones will be considered for a tower, according to the legislation, only if the applicant “can demonstrate that no suitable alternative site exists.”
November 21, 2017