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City Council votes to oppose cell tower bill
by Savannah Weeks
February 19, 2013 09:53 PM | 1668 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Sandy Springs City Council is publicly standing against Georgia House Bill 176, or the Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act. At its meeting Tuesday night at City Hall, the council voted 6-0 to approve a resolution opposing the legislation.

The bill would take away much of local governments’ abilities to regulate cell phone towers, according to Cecil McLendon, assistant city attorney.

The first part of the law states telecommunications carriers who construct the towers can increase the height of regulated towers by 10 percent or the distance of one antenna, according to McLendon.

The second benchmark states a wireless facility, which was built under local ordinances, can be extended 20 feet in width or one time the width of the tower. It also allows expansion of the base of tower up to 30 linear feet, said McLendon.

A total of four cabinets or one additional cabinet can be added to the tower, as well.

“The problem is, it doesn’t say it’s one time,” said McLendon. “And the question I have is, do you have a new baseline once they make an expansion and they can do it again? It could be interpreted by the courts as you can only do it once, but it doesn’t say that in the law.”

McLendon said the part of the bill that would have the most impact on the city’s cell tower ordinance states the city cannot do an analysis of the need for a tower.

“It says, ‘[the government] shall not include an evaluation of the technical businesses or service characteristics of the proposed wireless facilities; shall not require an applicant to submit radio frequency analysis or any other documentation intended to demonstrate the proposed service characteristics of the intended facility to illustrate need,’” he said.

“That’s a long way of saying, we can’t come in and say, ‘Do you need this tower?’ and [in] our ordinance, the first thing we look at is the need and then we balance that against the impact and try to sort of come to the reasonable conclusion in the middle.”

Council members and Mayor Eva Galambos alluded to the fact that the bill was being presented for personal gain of some representatives.

“It’s sort of blatant in terms of when you look at the occupations of the people who introduced the bill,” said Galambos.

The chairman of the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications, who is co-sponsoring the bill, is District 44 State Rep. Don Parsons, R-Marietta. His occupation is listed as telecommunications consultant on the House’s website.

The city’s resolution was to be presented to the committee at its meeting Wednesday

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