League of Munis Asserts Local Authority For Wireless Infrastructure


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The Maryland Municipal League’s (MML) sole legislative priority for the 2019 General Assembly session is preserving local authority over macro towers, small cells and wireless infrastructure in general, reported the Garrett County Republican.

MML, a nonprofit, nonpartisan association founded in 1936, works to, “strengthen and support” municipal governments through, “advocacy and the development of effective leadership.” The group represents 157 municipalities, including all eight in Garrett County.

MML has decided to lobby against Senate Bill 1188/House Bill 1767, introduced in 2018. The legislation is an effort by the wireless communications industry, to streamline and make uniform, local permitting and installation of small cell facilities.

Mountain Lake Park Mayor Don Sincell and vice-president of the Allegany-Garrett Chapter of MML, said of the proposed legislation, “this utility is basically allowed to totally circumvent local zoning regulations from the towns when it comes to installing the equipment they want. We saw a number of photographs of such installations in some Maryland towns that were not only unsightly but also posed safety hazards.”

According to the MML website, “In reality, the bill preempted local governments in almost every aspect, including important safety and aesthetic components such as zoning and right-of-way access.”

The Republican also reported the Maryland Association of Counties, Baltimore City and wireless communication companies held “good faith discussions” to find a “path forward” in 2018. The discussions are ongoing, even though MML anticipates another bill will be introduced in this year’s General Assembly, which begins later this month.

“I suspect that if there is legislation introduced, the MML will organize ‘mass attendance’ of its members to testify for or against the legislation, depending upon whether it endorses or opposes the industry’s desires,” Sincell said.

January 7, 2019

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