Com­mis­sion­ers to vote on telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion or­di­nance

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers will vote on Or­di­nance 16-06 con­cern­ing the re­quire­ments for con­di­tional use ap­proval for telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions fa­cil­i­ties in the county now that it has com­pleted a pub­lic hear­ing re­gard­ing the mat­ter dur­ing the Tues­day, June 28, meet­ing.

The com­mis­sion will vote on the or­di­nance at its Tues­day, July 12, meet­ing be­gin­ning at 9 a.m. in the Lib­erty Build­ing in Centreville.

The text amend­ment changes the num­ber of re­quired le­gal lease agree­ments needed for a cell phone tower com­pany to lease space on its tower from two providers to one provider. If ap­proved, the owner of a cell phone tower needs only one ser­vice car­rier lease agree­ment to re­ceive a build­ing per­mit to con­struct a cel­lu­lar tower.

Joseph Stevens, at­tor­ney with the Law Of­fices of Stevens Palmer, LLC, rep­re­sent­ing Tow­erCo 2013, LLC, which re­quested the text amend­ment, said re­quir­ing two cel­lu­lar car­ri­ers to sign a tower lease be­fore the build­ing per­mit is ap­proved worked in the 1990s but is an­ti­quated in today’s set­ting.

That sec­tion of the code, Stevens said, worked when tow­ers were pop­ping up left and right through­out the county as car­ri­ers built the tow­ers and didn’t let other providers on it, so re­quir­ing two lease agree­ments helped min­i­mize the to­tal num­ber of tow­ers.

“And the re­sult is re­ally that these ru­ral ar­eas weren’t get­ting cov­ered,” Stevens said. “And with all the new data go­ing on you need more cov­er­age, and so there were these ar­eas where cov­er­age wasn’t hap­pen­ing in the county.”

Tow­erCo, which builds and man­ages tower sites through­out the United States, pre­vi­ously re­ceived ap­proval to build a tower but were un­able to at­tract two providers. Stevens said the lease agree­ment is with Ver­i­zon. Steven’s said Tow­erCo plans to build tow­ers in the area in the fu­ture, so rather than go­ing to the board of ap­peals ask­ing for a vari­ance on each tower it re­quested a text amend­ment de­creas­ing the num­ber of car­ri­ers needed.

“The most im­por­tant thing I think in the staff re­port that the plan­ning com­mis­sion and the board de­ter­mined was they don’t need the two lease re­quire­ment in or­der to min­i­mize the num­ber of tow­ers that go up in the county,” Stevens said. “There’s an­other four or five re­quire­ments that make you co-lo­cate be­fore the board of ap­peals can ap­prove a tower. So it’s not needed and what it was do­ing was re­ally de­ter­ring cov­er­age in ru­ral ar­eas.”

The county’s plan­ning com­mis­sion unan­i­mously rec­om­mended ap­proval of the text amend­ment.

Ja­son Catal­ini, vice pres­i­dent of col­lo­ca­tion and real es­tate for Tow­erCo, said within the past 16 years the cel­lu­lar data in­dus­try has evolved where large in­de­pen­dent tower com­pa­nies that are pub­licly traded build and man­age tower sites rather than the car­ri­ers build­ing them. He said the tower com­pa­nies’ main goal is to min­i­mize the num­ber of tow­ers in an area be­cause it wants to max­i­mize the amount of providers on those tow­ers.

“If you build a site and Ver­i­zon goes on it, AT&T will ob­vi­ously want to keep their cus­tomers happy and so forth,” Catal­ini said. “So re­ally this text amend­ment is in essence elim­i­nat­ing a pro­vi­sion that is no longer re­quired in this day and age ver­sus sev­eral years ago ... and had car­ri­ers build­ing their own sites and they were not, in essence, play­ing well to­gether in the sand­box.”

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Joseph Stevens, at­tor­ney with Stevens Palmer, LLC, speaks June 28 to the Queen Anne’s Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing re­gard­ing or­di­nance 16-06.

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