Bel Air, Md., Looks into Crafting Small Cell Rules

Though city planning officials said they are looking forward to the benefits the new 5G technology will bring to residents from a connectivity standpoint, there is a need to protect “the character and appearance of the community.”

by David Anderson, The Aegis / March 5, 2019
Shutterstock/kriangphrom

(TNS) — The town of Bel Air, Md., is developing legislation pertaining to its ability to regulate the placement of “small cell” wireless technology in public rights of way, as wireless providers prepare to install such infrastructure that would support 5G communication services.

Four pieces of legislation, including Ordinance 789-19 and three resolutions that apply to regulating the placement of small cell infrastructure — often on existing utility poles — and establishing design guidelines, fees for placing the infrastructure and fines and penalties for any violations, were introduced Monday evening during the Board of Town Commissioners’ meeting.

Bel Air is among a number of towns in Maryland that are adopting similar ordinances in the wake of a ruling by the FCC issued last September that takes some control from local governments to regulate the placement of small cell wireless equipment. The FCC’s ruling took effect Jan. 14.

Town Planning Director Kevin Small said the 5G, or fifth-generation technology, facilitates the transfer of digital data “at a much greater speed” than current services, and some of the first locations for installing the supporting infrastructure will be “urban and suburban areas such as Bel Air.”

“It’s the intention of the town to allow our citizens to receive this beneficial service quickly while protecting the character and appearance of the community,” Small said.

A public hearing on the ordinance — people can discuss the resolutions as well — is scheduled for March 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Bel Air Town Hall at 39 N. Hickory Ave. Visit the town website to see copies of the legislation.

©2019 The Aegis (Bel Air, Md.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.