New Legislation Supports “Rapid Growth” of Small Cells and Infrastructure

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Local government in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin agreed to abide by a new law that prohibits local governments from blocking tower proposals based on their location, the Journal Sentinel reported. An amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance that will allow towers in every zoning district was accepted with a 6-2 vote in a council meeting on December 18.

According to city planner Jason Gallo, the law prohibits towers from being installed on public property, but releases providers from the requirement to perform environmental testing. Under the law, applications must still have a conditional-use permit, and local governments must respond to a tower permit application within 90 days, or the application will be considered accepted. Gallo said a public hearing will still be held at the council meeting, and the permits must receive approval from common council and plan commission. 

According to the Sentinel, Gallo explained how this law allows the deployment of towers, “to keep up with the rapid growth of cellular phone service and wireless broadband.” Gallo touched on the controversy towers have received in the past, but followed up by saying, “This is not about that; it’s about consistency with the state law.”

Attorney Stan Riffle spoke with the council about the importance of abiding by the law. In his experience, two cities that decided not to comply with the law were sued, and lost. Attorney Alderman Matt Rosek also weighed in. He said, “Our law is five years out of compliance. If we get sued, we’re not going to have a leg to stand on because we’re not compliant.”

The ordinance was put into law immediately after it passed the first reading at the meeting. Comments? Email Us.

January 4, 2019

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