Maryland Politician Tries to Streamline Small Cell Deployment, Catches Flak

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A member of the Montgomery County Council, a wealthy Maryland county at the edge of Washington, DC, recently introduced a zoning text amendment that would enable wireless companies to forgo the county’s conditional use approval process when installing antennas on poles shorter than 30 feet, reported Bethesda Magazine.

County Council President Nancy Floreen introduced the amendment last week, citing the growing demand for wireless coverage and the county’s backed-up small cell approval process as warranting the amendment.

Currently, the county’s Tower Commission is responsible for approving or denying cell tower and antenna applications. However, roughly 170 small antenna applications await review by the Commission, a lengthy process Floreen aims to shorten with the amendment.

“That’s the question. Do we have hundreds of public hearings on what won’t be the kind of eyesore that people are usually concerned with?” Floreen asked.

The amendment will be reviewed at a July 19 public hearing. Earlier this year, Crown Castle received significant opposition from citizens at a public hearing when the company sought to install small antennas in the Gaithersburg, a city that is home to some 70,000 of Montgomery County’s one million residents.  

Floreen said she “wouldn’t be surprised” to receive some backlash regarding the proposed amendment, but said small antennas mounted on street light and telephone poles should not have a significant impact on residents’ homes.

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