Verizon Plans to “Park” Small Cells In County Met With Delay

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In late 2019, the Milwaukee County Board was informed that Act 14 was codified into law, which limited the power of localities regarding the placement of 5G infrastructure. Since then, small cells have been popping up all over Milwaukee. Now, Verizon Wireless has three pending applications to install fiber-optic cable through county parkland, reported Urban Milwaukee.

According to Jeremy Lucas, director of administration and planning for Milwaukee County Parks, the poles connecting the small cells will “need to be prolific,” placed every few hundred feet. Most small cells already installed around the city are attached to utility poles; however, since existing infrastructure doesn’t exist in the parks, telecoms will likely put up new poles. Urban Milwaukee reported that co-location is not allowed on any given pole so that each carrier will require its own infrastructure.

The County Board is being cautious as it reviews Verizon’s applications, according to Urban Milwaukee. The committee tabled easement approval considering that it recently approved a workgroup that will develop small cell guidelines for the county, specifically regarding permits and placement. The future guidelines, as defined by the board’s resolution, will seek to limit small cell infrastructure to areas that “do not impede upon historically designated locations, do not interfere with aesthetics in highly valued park spaces, do not obstruct views, are as minimally invasive as possible, and result in the highest revenues possible to the county.” 

According to Supervisor Steven Shea, the state gave “very expansive rights” to the telecommunications industry. The workgroup would be an attempt to preserve some authority for the county in the inevitable placement of this infrastructure in county parks.

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