Legislation Proposed to Return Zoning Authority Back to Cities and Towns

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There isn’t much state Senator Robert Cowles can do for a group of protesters that gathered last weekend to oppose a planned cell tower near St. Joseph’s Church in Green Bay—for now, anyway.

“My hope is that we can pass a bill, ultimately that would change the dynamic to give local governments the authority to negotiate satisfactory siting for these towers going forward,” Cowles told WBAY-TV.

In 2013, the state passed a bill that greatly curbed local municipalities’ authority to regulate the siting of cell towers—provided the landowner approves of the tower, there isn’t much cities or towns can do.   

But Cowles is hoping to change that and plans to support a bill that would return power back to local governments. In fact, a bill is currently moving through the state legislature that would do exactly that, and Cowles said the bill has bipartisan support.

However, don’t expect movement on the piece of legislation too swiftly, as Cowles estimated at least a few months before the bill is pushed through. As for the tower in Green Bay, Verizon is moving forward with the project as planned.

In response to protesters’ criticism that the tower would be an eyesore, Verizon told WBAY-TV that it has made extra effort to ensure the tower design meshes with the existing appearance of the community.

“It’s not our goal to build things that are going to be eyesores in the community,” Steve Van Dinter, a Verizon spokesman said. “So we really do spend time to work with folks in that area, to make sure that what we’re building is consistent with the community.”  

May 5, 2017

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