Wisconsin Bill Tries to Give Municipalities More Leverage in Zoning Battles

A provision adopted in the state’s 2013 budget has made it much more difficult for local municipalities to regulate the location of cell towers in the state. Now, Wisconsin municipalities are pushing back and they’ve found a champion of their cause in State Rep. Jim Ott. Ott introduced a bill in the state Assembly earlier this week that would enable municipalities to adopt rules that would prevent the construction of cell towers on residential lots, reports GM Today.

Ott said while he understands the need for good cell phone coverage in a world that’s rapidly becoming more wireless-oriented, he believes the intent of the provision was not to place cell towers in residential areas.  “My take on it is the idea was to make it easier to give us good cell phone service,” Ott told GM Today, in reference to the 2013 state provision. “But I don’t think it was anybody’s intent that people would be renting out their back yards and I don’t think it’s necessary that happens.”   

The bill—which Ott drafted narrowly in hopes that it would pass both houses of the state Legislature—would not specifically enumerate new authorities for municipalities, rather empower them to draft ordinances at a local level. “The bill itself won’t do anything—unless they take advantage of the opportunity and write their own setback rules,” Ott said. “If we can’t get this passed it would solve most problems with cell phone towers.”

February 16, 2017

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