Maryland Makes Way for 5G

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In an ongoing struggle to bring better connectivity to Montgomery County, Maryland, the Montgomery County Planning Board has made it easier for 5G to move into town. Bethesda Magazine reports that legislation introduced in October will change zoning requirements to allow small cell placement within residential neighborhoods. The zoning amendment would flex the rules so that a small cell is acceptable if it is replacing an existing utility pole and is at least 60 feet from a residential building.

Under ‘conditional use’ provisions, antennas would be allowed within 30 feet of a residence if and only if it is deemed necessary. Another situation calling for lenience would be the lesser visual impact of an attached small cell versus the construction of a new host pole. Decisions would be subject to a public hearing with the final determination left to the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings.  

Council Member Hans Riemer made the motion to address zoning requirements saying, “Our current zoning code requires [cell] antennas to be at least 300 feet from a residential property. It’s outdated, and it’s a serious restriction when it comes to deploying this technology.”

“{It is} something that balances the issue of protecting neighborhoods with providing the technology that’s going to be necessary for businesses,” said Planner Coordinator Gregory Russ, “or that citizens would like in their homes.” Bethesda Magazine also noted that local government making it easier to rollout 5G is likely to assuage the FCC and keep it from coming in to enforce implementation.

November 18, 2019

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