Missouri Small Cell Code Under Scrutiny

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When it comes to deploying small cells in Missouri, state and federal governments have enacted laws that will prevent localities from making it too difficult, timely or costly to deploy infrastructure. Meanwhile, local governments have been tasked with preventing that same technology from affecting neighborhood character and property values, said Rolla City Planner, James Shields.

On December 11, the Rolla Planning and Zoning Commission met to recommend the denial, approval or conditional approval of the city’s proposal regarding the Wireless Communications Facility Code, known as Division 22, which included recommended revisions by AT&T.

 The Rolla Daily News reported that the proposal must meet state guidelines regarding small cell technology.

The addition of the Wireless Communications Facilities Code is in regards to the current Rolla Planning and Zoning Code revision meant to comply with Senate Bill 650 and House Bill 1991, signed into law in 2014 and 2018, respectively.

SB 650, an amendment to Missouri’s Uniform Wireless Communication Infrastructure Deployment Act, encourages and streamlines the deployment of broadcast and broadband facilities and helps ensure that robust wireless radio-based communication services are available throughout Missouri.

According to Shields, HB 1991 eases regulations to access public Right-of-Way to facilitate the deployment of 5G wireless and mobile broadband and specifically targets how localities regulate small cell technology that power these networks.

“Division 22 will regulate the placement, construction, and modification of such facilities. The public purposes of such regulations are to preserve the character, aesthetics and property values of the city, and Division 22 does this by regulating the location, height, and appearance of these facilities and ensure adequate camouflaging, fencing and landscaping is provided,” said Shields.

Chad Davis, operations manager at Rolla Municipal Utilities (RMU) addressed the Rolla Planning and Zoning commissioners and explained his concerns with the revisions granted to AT&T. “From a utilities perspective adding easements obtained by utilities or private easements under a Right-of-Way umbrella is concerning for the potential that some of those easements may be restricted to only certain uses by that private utility,” said Davis.

Another area of contention was the addition of poles, pipes, cables, conduits, wires and optical cables for electrical current into the definition of Right-of-Way because they could be contradictory to some of the other terms, reported The Daily News.

With that, the commissioners set aside the motion to be revisited.  Comments? Email Us.

December 18, 2018

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