Ohio Municipalities Fight Back Against State and Carriers with Zoning Rules

OHIOH SEALUPDATE In December, the Ohio State Legislature passed SB 331, which received heavy support from the wireless community but significant pushback from local municipalities who believed the bill restricted their authority to regulate small cell deployment.

Now, municipalities in the state are aiming to implement zoning laws and restrictions that exercise their local authority while simultaneously complying with the 2016 state law, reports Crain’s Cleveland Business.

For example, Strongsville, a suburb located southeast of Cleveland, plans to put in place regulations designed to regulate small cell deployment for health and safety reasons, something Strongsville law director Neal M. Jamison believes the state law allows.  

“They put certain restrictions in, but we still have the ability at the end of the day for health and safety reasons to regulate our right-of-way,” Jamison told Crain’s. “So as long as we’re consistent with the state law, I feel we still have the right to enact some regulations for (the wireless companies) to comply with.”

The law was passed to streamline the deployment of broadband service in Ohio, a state where carriers are ahead of the curve in the development of 5G technology.  It gives carriers the authority to attach small cell equipment to existing light poles, traffic signals or sign poles in public rights-of-way, as well as construct or modify existing poles to install equipment.  The law “significantly impacts a municipality’s ability to regulate the placement, construction, modification, and maintenance of ‘small cell’ wireless facilities in the public right-of-way,” wrote William Hanna, a public law attorney with Cleveland-based Walter & Haverfield in a December blog post.

AT&T Ohio president Adam Grzybicki touted the benefits of streamlined 5G deployment, including the economic benefits it will bring to the state’s businesses.

“This is an incredible opportunity to really position yourself as the first state to be talking about 5G technology on a really broad platform,” Grzybicki told Crain’s. “This isn’t San Francisco or Silicon Valley, and it’s not Manhattan. It’s starting here. The fact that we are able to start deploying a lot of these services is a big deal.”

February 14, 2017

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