Small Cell Legislation Revived In Montgomery County

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The Montgomery County Council (Maryland) is reviving legislation around small cells in residential areas, a matter it tabled last year, reported Bethesda Magazine. The new bill proposes a zoning change that would allow telecoms to install 5G antennas on pre-existing utility and streetlight poles.

The newly proposed legislation challenges the county’s existing zoning code, prohibiting cell towers within 300 feet of residential zones.

 “But if you made a map of every existing utility pole and every existing light pole in the county, and then eliminated any that were within 300 feet of a house, you wouldn’t have any left,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer who is sponsoring the legislation. “And that’s a big issue when it comes to implementing 5G.”

Residents have complained that the small cells would lower property values or even cause cancer. Last year, council members couldn’t agree on the setback length for the 5G infrastructure or whether to establish them as a conditional use, requiring approval from the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings, per Bethesda Magazine.

According to Riemer, revisiting the legislation is vital as the growth of 5G technology becomes inevitable. The proposed bill allows small cell antennas in residential areas as long as they replace an existing pole and are at least 60 feet from a residential building. The legislation also sets height and design restrictions, not allowing small cells to be located closer than 30 feet to a residential building.

October 3, 2019   

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