FCC will not reconsider new time limits on cell-tower sitings
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied a request to modify deadlines for new wireless infrastructure applications the federal body imposed on local governments last fall. However, another challenge to the FCC order still awaits a decision.
The new deadlines require local land-use authorities to rule on new tower applications within 150 days and co-locations within 90 days. On Jan. 29, the FCC denied a motion for reconsideration filed by the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo), the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the American Planning Association and the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.
We have processes that are built into law that we have no control over – state requirements and other things – that local governments are required to meet, [such as public notice and public hearings, that can make it difficult for municipalities to review an application within a short time frame,]” says NACo deputy legislative director Jeffrey Arnold.
Specifically, the association’s motion addressed a 30-day deadline for local governments to determine if a cell-tower application is complete before the clock starts ticking on the review process. The next challenge to the new rules comes from Arlington, Texas, which has appealed the entire ruling in federal court. “This is important enough to say, ‘Hey, wait a second – the FCC doesn’t even have the authority to do this to begin with,'” says Arlington City Attorney Jay Doegey.
He contends there is evidence in the congressional record that the law the FCC based its ruling on defers to local zoning codes when it comes to defining a “reasonable amount of time” to review an application. Additionally, Doegey argues that land-use decisions are local by their very nature, and cities should have the right to determine how they are made. “Quite honestly, what I think is going on is the industry is gearing up for the 4G technology, and they don’t want to have to bother with going around asking cities to do this,” he says.
Read more about the FCC’s new rules for cell tower citing and the opposition to the rules in Texas.