Board of su­per­vi­sors con­sider new rules reg­u­lat­ing mini-cell phone poles, res­i­den­tial so­lar en­ergy pan­els

The Advance of Bucks County - - YARDLEY-MORRISVILLE AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

LOWER MAKEcIELD - The board of su­per­vi­sors is mov­ing ahead with plans to even­tu­ally draw up laws to reg­u­late minia­ture cell phone tow­ers and so­lar pan­els on res­i­den­tial prop­erty in the town­ship.

In a pair of 4-0 votes at the March 20 board meet­ing, the su­per­vi­sors gave the go ahead to town­ship com­mit­tees to look at other mu­nic­i­pal or­di­nances cov­er­ing the in­stal­la­tion and place­ment of wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions and so­lar power in or­der to speFL­fiFDOOy WDLORU RUGLnDnFHs IRU LRwHU 0DNH­fiHOG.

At is­sue is what are known as ‘cell poles,’ those minia­ture wire­less and cell an­ten­nas atop tele­phone poles and street lights, which are dif­fer­ent than the tra­di­tional 150-foot-tall cell tow­ers that grace the land­scape.

Ac­cord­ing to town­ship so­lic­i­tor Jef­frey Gar­ton, com­pa­nies that in­stall th­ese cellpoles, which are tech­ni­cally called a Dis­trib­uted An­tenna Sys­tem (DASF, want to be reg­u­lated by the Penn­syl­va­nia Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion (PUCF so they do not have to be bound by lo­cal zon­ing rules.

Gar­ton ex­plained that the an­ten­nas are placed on util­ity poles in the pub­lic right of way be­cause state laws pro­hibit lo­cal gov­ern­ments, and even Pen­nDOT, from in­ter­fer­ing with road­side util­ity in­stal­la­tions.

The is­sue of cell poles sur­faced last year when Northamp­ton Town­ship res­i­dents com­plained that th­ese cell an­ten­nas are un­sightly and should not be per­mit­ted in res­i­den­tial ar­eas that have un­der­ground util­i­ties.

Last June, Northamp­ton reached a com­pro­mise with the cell poles owner, Amer­i­can Tower Corp., which agreed in­stall fu­ture DAS equip­ment un­der­ground.

In ce­bru­ary, Northamp­ton adopted an or­di­nance to reg­u­late the de­vices, and Gar­ton rec­om­mended that Lower 0DNH­fiHOG RI­fiFLDOs ORRN DW what Northamp­ton is do­ing.

“You should be­gin dis­cus­sions to get be­hind the eight ball,” he urged.

At Gar­ton’s urg­ing, the su­per­vi­sors voted to in­structed the town­ship’s Elec­tronic Me­dia Ad­vi­sory Board, as well as the plan­ning com­mis­sion, to look at what other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are do­ing about cell poles, and how to best reg­u­late them.

“Ev­ery­thing is un­der­ground,” said Su­per­vi­sor Chair­man Pete Stainthorpe, re­fer­ring to where util­i­ties are placed in most of the town- ship. “You don’t want this in your front yard.”

“All the com­pa­nies want this to go be­fore the PUC and fed­eral agen­cies so it doesn’t have to come be­fore us,” he added.

cear­ing a sim­i­lar prob­lem in New­town, town­ship su­per­vi­sors there opted last month WR MRLn 8SSHU 0DNH­fiHOG DnG Wright­stown in hir­ing an at­tor­ney who spe­cial­izes in com­mu­ni­ca­tions law to help draft an or­di­nance to be ap­proved by the three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties which are part of a joint zon­ing agree­ment.

New­town has al­ready re­ceived sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions from Amer­i­can Tower Corp. to place DAS equip­ment there.

Mean­while, Lower Make­fiHOG suSHUYLsRUs Rn 0DUFK 20 also ap­proved look­ing into how to reg­u­late the in­stal­la­tion of res­i­den­tial so­lar en­ergy pan­els.

“You don’t want some­body putting up 40 foot pan­els in their front yards,” warned Gar­ton.

“It’s only in­tended as a zon­ing com­po­nent,” he stated, “cov­er­ing size and safety.”

Gar­ton noted that neigh­bor­ing town­ships are also con­sid­er­ing im­ple­ment­ing or­di­nances reg­u­lat­ing th­ese de­vices.

He said that there is some dis­agree­ment be­tween NewWRwn DnG 8SSHU 0DNH­fiHOG Town­ships, which are part of the joint zon­ing, as to the lo­ca­tion of the pan­els. At is­sue is whether they should be placed on the front of the roof, or on the back to be away from neigh­bors’ view.

“They have to be put in places where they can be most ef­fec­tive,” Gar­ton ex­plained. “Th­ese are the kind of con­flLFWLnJ Ls­suHs WKDW FRPH uS.”

The su­per­vi­sors ap­proved send­ing the is­sue to the town­ship’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Advi- sory Coun­cil and the plan­ning com­mis­sion so that other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ or­di­nances can be ex­am­ined be­fore propos­ing RnH IRU LRwHU 0DNH­fiHOG.

The su­per­vi­sors said that they hoped to re­ceive rec­om­men­da­tions on both is­sues by this sum­mer.

Also at the March 20 meet­ing, the su­per­vi­sors hon­ored the Penns­bury High School Girls Cross Coun­try Team for win­ning the Penn­syl­va­nia In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (PIAAF Class AAA cham­pi­onship in 2012.

It’s the third straight year that Penns­bury has won the WL­WOH, DnG WKH fiUsW WLPH WKDW D Class AAA school has ever won three cham­pi­onships since the PIAA was formed in 19TT.

The team also placed ninth in last year’s Nike Na­tional Cross Na­tion­als held in Port­land, Ore.

“In the town­ship po­lice report you also see a lot of kids mak­ing bad de­ci­sions,” Stainthorpe said, “it’s nice to see kids do­ing good things.”

Stainthorpe told the team that the board is pre­par­ing a procla­ma­tion plaque so that it can be dis­played in the school’s tro­phy cab­i­net.

Ja­son Simon, a board mem­ber with the Penns­bury Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (PAAF, also spoke with the su­per­vi­sors about the group’s con­cerns that one of the two new ball fiHOGs wKLFK wLOO EH EuLOW DW the Samost tract on Edge­wood Road might have an RuW­fiHOG wLWK WRR JUHDW RI D slope.

Simon, who is the PAA’s li­ai­son with the town­ship, said that the 10-foot de­cline beWwHHn WKH OHIW DnG ULJKW fiHOG IRuO SROHs “Ls sLJnL­fiFDnW,” and could af­fect the way the EDOO Ls SODyHG Ey RuW­fiHOGHUs.

Town­ship en­gi­neer Mark Eisold pointed out that the slope is be­tween two and twoand-a-half per­cent, less than the three per­cent max­i­mum al­lowed un­der Babe Ruth LHDJuH sSHFL­fiFDWLRns.

Drainage is also an is­sue if WKH fiHOG Ls nRW sORSHG SURSerly, and has been a past prob­lem other town­ship-owned EDOO fiHOGs.

The su­per­vi­sors said that the town­ship en­gi­neer and the Park and Recre­ation Board must still look over the plans IRU WKH nHw fiHOGs EHIRUH WKH con­struc­tion bid is ad­ver­tised.

“We want to en­sure that they are built right,” Simon noted, “the op­por­tu­nity to get WKLs ULJKW Ls PRUH sLJnL­fiFDnW than tim­ing.”

The town­ship has set aside A585,000 of a A2-mil­lion state grant for the Samost ball fiHOGs DFURss IURP WKH PunLFL­pal com­plex.

How­ever, the con­struc­tion bids are ex­pected to come in slightly higher.

Also at the su­per­vi­sors’ meet­ing, project di­rec­tor Ti­mothy Philpot of Penns­bury LYcT, a com­mu­nity-based preven­tion pro­gram, up­dated WKH ERDUG Rn WKH nRn-SUR­fiW group’s ef­forts to re­duce al­co­hol and sub­stance abuse in WKH LRwHU 0DNH­fiHOG, YDUG­ley, calls Town­ship and Tul­ly­town area.

Ac­cord­ing to Philpot, the ef­fects of un­der­age drink­ing cost Penn­syl­va­ni­ans roughly A2.1-bil­lion in 2010 in mediFDO FDUH, ORsW wRUN, WUDI­fiF ac­ci­dents and other re­lated is­sue.

Philpot said that one of LYcT’s pri­mary goals is to reach out to par­ents to speak with their chil­dren about not drink­ing al­co­hol.

“Be­lieve it or not the mes­sages that par­ents give ac­tu­ally do sink in,” he main­tained.

The next reg­u­larly sched­uled su­per­vi­sors’ meet­ing is April 3.

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