Friday, October 7, 2016

Aldermen approve SB 650 changes to local ordinance

by Mary Wilson,

The State of Missouri legislature in 2014 passed Senate Bill (SB) 650, the Uniform Wireless Communications Infrastructure Deployment Act, thus creating significant changes to law in response to what the telecommunications industry lobby portrayed as municipal governments acting as impediments to review and approve their proposed facilities, including towers and accessory equipment. These changes were intended to limit or remove local government authority for zoning and land use approvals.

The changes approved in SB 650 were brought forward to the Grandview Board of Aldermen after a public hearing for approval on Tuesday, September 27, in order to bring the city into compliance with the new law.

With the new bill, communications towers and facilities will be permitted on buildings and structures 2 stories in height or greater. Mast supporting antennas may extend up to ten feet above the roof line. In residential districts, the existing structure must be on property developed with a non-residential use. Applications will be required to submit a site plan and associated fee, as they are subject to review. A building permit will also be required.

The ordinance includes development standards, including a minimum distance between towers, but removed the city’s authority of security for maintenance or removal of antennas or towers.

 “Senate Bill 650 came about because of extensive lobbying at the state level by telecommunications companies and I think what they’ve done is a tremendous disservice to cities,” said Ward 3 Alderman Jim Crain. “We can no longer require financial security in the form of a bond or letter of credit. We no longer have right of access. We can no longer require the removal of abandoned antennas and towers. We can no longer require proof of study of additional potential sites. What the state has done has allowed telecommunications companies to come into cities and cram it down our throats.”

After brief discussion Tuesday night, the Board of Aldermen approved the changes, with Crain being the sole opposition to the ordinance.

“While I guess we have to abide by this, I strongly disagree with it,” said Crain. Mayor Leonard Jones asked Crain if the bill was another unfunded mandate. He responded, “I think it’s at least that. It’s not requiring us to spend any money but it is certainly taking away local control.”

Bill number 7175 passed and thus became Ordinance 6923 in the City of Grandview. 

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