Streamlining or Steamrolling? NY Governor Proposes Rules for Small Cells


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Last year, when Verizon Wireless submitted 12 small cell applications for a neighborhood near the University of Buffalo, Amherst enacted a moratorium on the construction of new towers and gathered a committee to analyze and revise local zoning regulations. Now those municipality-level regulations may be usurped by state-wide protocol, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a budget proposal to adopt a uniform, statewide permitting and review process for the installation of small cell nodes, according to a report from The Buffalo News. Local governments and interest groups like the Association of Towns and the New York Conference of Mayors are pushing back, citing state overreach in decisions traditionally made at the local level.  

Verizon supports the governor’s proposal, which the company believes will “promote private investment in state-of-the-art telecommunications networks at no cost to taxpayers,” according to David Lamendola, Verizon’s director of state government affairs for New York. New York would join 13 other states who have already introduced similar proposals to streamline the installation of small cell technology, Lamendola told The Buffalo News. In addition to helping Verizon meet customer demand, Lamendola explained that the proposal may also bring new jobs to the state.  

“I get the industry argument, they just want these up as fast as possible to start marketing 5G network speeds. But as a resident, nobody is going to want one of these near them,” James Hartz, director of community development for the Town of Tonawanda told The Buffalo News.

While Hartz conceded that most small cells impacted by this proposal would add only four feet to the height of existing utility poles, he noted that applications have been submitted for new metal utility poles at heights between 75 and 120 feet. Alissa Shields, an environmental activist from Amherst, warned of dire consequences should the proposal succeed, when she spoke to the Amherst Town Board. “The only things residents will get out of this bill is lower property values, visual blight, and a front-row seat to unregulated, mass proliferation of wireless infrastructure in their town,” Shields said.

March 13, 2018      

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