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Pennsylvania Township Reviews 5G Antenna Ordinance

While the town of McCandless can create rules to govern the location and style of antennas, they cannot be so restrictive that the systems are unable to function properly, a planning official told the council this week.

by Tony LaRussa, The Tribune-Review / August 27, 2020
Shutterstock/Lisic

(TNS) — McCandless Council held a public hearing Monday night for new rules proposed for cellular telephone service providers seeking to erect antennas for the new “5th Generation,” or 5G, networks.

Manager Bob Grimm said the town’s ordinance regulating cell antennas needs to be updated to be in compliance with new rules established by the Federal Communications Commissions for the 5G networks.

While updating the rules, town officials created guidelines for the location and appearance of the new antennas that “will become, over time, more and more prominent.”

No residents commented about the proposed ordinance during the public hearing.

“We wanted to focus on mitigating the impact (of the antennas), especially as they start to proliferate in the town,” said town attorney Gavin Robb. “We also wanted to add features such as ‘stealth’ technology that allows these small cell system to blend in and not be eyesores.”

Planning Director RJ Susko said while the town can create rules to govern the location and style of antennas, they cannot be so restrictive that the systems are unable to function properly.

The examples she provided show how the antennas can be disguised.

These are not giant cell towers being dropped into the sidewalk,” she said.

The examples show antennas hidden behind banners hung on utility poles or shrouded in material that is the same style and color as the poles. Small buildings used to house equipment also can be kept out of sight by requiring underground vaults to be constructed.

The proposed ordinance also requires cell providers to follow so-called “co-location” rules that require them to, whenever possible, place new equipment on existing poles and facilities.

Also added was a provision that allows the town to update the ordinance as standards evolve.

“As long the changes are published ahead of time, (the town) can require installers to comply with them,” Robb said, adding that the application process “has been beefed up to make it very clear what needs to be submitted when filing an application.”

A vote on the ordinance is scheduled for Sept. 14.

©2020 The Tribune-Review, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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