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New FCC Proceeding Exempting Cell Tower/Radio Tower Expansions From Local Approval

OnDemand Webinar (95 minutes)

Understand how to respond to it to the new FCC proceeding exempting cell tower/radio tower expansions.A current FCC proceeding is likely to exempt many or most changes to cell tower/radio tower sites from complying with state and local laws, including weakening/preempting compliance with health and safety-related codes and requirements. This topic will cover the 2014 Order (briefly), the expanded preemption being considered and significant municipal concerns and objections to such expansion. Among many other things, the FCC is being asked to weaken/preempt compliance with health and safety-related codes and requirements; effectively remove height restrictions on towers; prevent public hearings on site changes; increase the size of expansions which must be approved; prevent local approvals for changes at tower sites or within 30 feet of a current site; allow incomplete applications to start shot clocks; require all permits and local approvals to be issued within the shot clocks; prohibit requiring engineering drawings showing proposed changes; and ignore camouflaging requirements. This would significantly expand the preemption set forth in the FCC's 2014 Wireless Siting Order. This topic covers some of the major requests to the FCC, formal municipal responses, and what municipalities can do now at the FCC to oppose requested changes. A decision by the FCC is likely in the next several months.


John W. Pestle, Esq., Varnum LLP
Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq., Telecom Law Firm, P.C.


Introduction and Overview

• Section 6409(a) of Middle Class Tax Relief Act/47 USC Section 1455(a)

• Background to Section 6409(a)

• FCC 2014 Wireless Siting Order Implementing Section 6409(a)

• Changes Since Wireless Siting Order

• Industry's Two 2019 Petitions to FCC

• Current Status of FCC Proceeding

Some of Major Preemptions Requested

• Changes Within Leased Area Automatically Allowed

• Height Restrictions Effectively Removed

• One Antenna on Building Allows Antennas Anywhere on Building

• No Local Approvals for Expansions Within 30' of Leased Area/Easements

• Ability to Require Concealed Antennas Reduced

• Radio Boxes on Poles Can Extend Into Street

• Cell Antennas Must Be Allowed on Light Poles

• No Public Hearings Allowed on Applications

• Applications Need Not Be Signed by Property Owner

• Before and After Drawings of Changes Prohibited

• Good Faith Attempt to Apply/Incomplete Applications Starts Shot Clocks

• Fees and Deposits Limited, Prevented

• All Permits, Approvals Must Be Granted Within Shot Clocks

• No Conditional Permits Allowed

• Noncompliances With Prior Approvals Need Not Be Remedied

Municipal Responses/What Can Municipalities Do

• Opposition by All Major Municipal Organizations

• Municipal Responses to Date

• Educate FCC Staff on Facts, Issues Involved

• Ex Parte Filings With FCC

• Constitutional/10th Amendment Issues With Proceeding

• Court Appeals After FCC Decision