In August, 2015 a revised State statute took effect which restricts the ability of any state, county or local government (the Authority) to regulate cellular towers and related facilities. According to Section 67.5094 RSMo, the intent was to ensure uniformity across Missouri when considering cellular applications by Authorities. The things the Authority cannot do includes:
· Dictating the type of wireless facilities infrastructure or technology being used by service providers
· Limiting the duration of approval of the facilities
· Requiring service providers to use the authority’s properties to locate facilities
· Requiring providers to submit information about, nor evaluate, any provider’s business decisions
· Prohibits the authority from requiring the removal of old facilities as a condition of approving new facilities
· Prohibits the authority from requiring providers to submit extensive site location analysis
City staff has been working to update Section 14-410 of the City Code to bring it into compliance with State statute. As the new statute precluded most of the City’s ability to regulate cellular facilities, there was no longer a need to require a Special Use Permit for cellular sites. Therefore, cellular facilities are being converted to Conditional Uses meaning that as long as the facilities met the minimum standards of Section 14-410, no Special Use Permit was required. Review of the facility’s plan for conformance with Section 14-410 will be made concurrent with the building permit application for the project.
As revisions to the statute did not relate to any noncellular facilities (television, radio, and microwave), these facilities still must obtain approval through the normal Special Use Permit process. This would include facilities like the 1,200-foot, guy-wire, multi-use tower adjacent to S. Menown Avenue in west central Independence.
Major features of this revision are:
1. Create descriptions for cellular and non-cellular support structures/towers [14-200-07-F]
2. Revise Use Tables for residential, office/commercial, and industrial uses [14-300, 14-301, 14-302] allowing cellular facilities in all zoning districts with the conditions setforth in Section 14-410, also requiring Special Use Permits for non-cellular facilities in office/commercial and industrial districts, also in conjunction with Section 14-410.
3. Converting sections from residential and nonresidential districts for facilities to cellular and non-cellular uses [14-410-04, 14-410-05].
4. Allows for various types of support structures instead of just monopoles [14-4120-07-A]
5. Deletes several subsections that relate to cellular towers, but are not applicable for non-cellular facilities.
There was lengthy discussion between the Commissioners and the City Counselor on how this amendment would preclude public input on how towers could affect property values, possible health concerns from radio frequency emissions, and the proposed location and aesthetics of tower sites. The City Counselor emphasized that State statute eliminates most of a local government’s authority to regulate these facilities and this proposed amendment was in keeping with those new state laws.
Planning Commission minutes are available in the Community Development Department.