Lexington, N.C., Approves Wireless Infrastructure Rules

The fear that telecommunications companies could run amok by placing antennas wherever they pleased forced city leaders to amend ordinances with detailed rules around fees, permitting and placement.

by Ben Coley, The Dispatch / April 9, 2019
Small cell antenna installations, similar to this one, are becoming increasingly popular in cities across the country. Shutterstock/kriang phromphim

(TNS) — On Monday, the Lexington City Council unanimously approved a text amendment to the city's code of ordinances that establishes in-depth regulations and fees for reviewing, permitting and placing of wireless telecommunications towers, support structures, facilities and related equipment.

The comprehensive rules will allow the city to permit and regulate visible structures related to new technologies that support fiber-optic networks and small wireless infrastructure. The previous language was less detailed and didn't cover all the necessary technology.

Major purposes of the new guidelines are to minimize visual impact citywide, particularly in the historic districts, and to facilitate quicker distribution of new technologies for advanced wireless services.

"We've been working with the city attorney as well as several other cities and have been working on this for a good while," said Trey Cleaton, a city planner for Lexington. "And again, when it comes down to the end of the day, it really is protecting what we can within the law because unfortunately if Verizon came in tomorrow and we didn't have these in play, the law says if they apply and we do not respond in 45 days, then essentially it is approved and they can go on and put in whatever they want. We really got ahead of the curve here putting what we can within the law to protect the city and the visual impact of the city."

Later in the meeting, Lexington City Manager Terra Greene announced that from Sunday until April 24, the stoplights at the intersections of West Third and West Second streets with North State Street will have a four-way stop sign and three-way stop sign, respectively, while the city repairs the casing around the stoplights and the controllers. The cost will be $7,000 to retrofit the stoplights. Greene said it would cost north of $80,000 to replace each stoplight.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Greene said the city will ramp up its efforts to educate the public on what to recycle. "The bottom line is, when in doubt, don't throw it in recycling," Greene said. "If you're not absolutely sure that it can be recycled, then throw it in the garbage."
  • Greene said the city will install more signage along East Second Street to increase awareness that it's now a one-way street.
  • The council scheduled a public hearing for April 22 to receive input on its intent to apply for Community Development Block Grant funds. Lexington has previously used the funds for housing and economic development opportunities.
  • City offices will be closed Friday, April 19, to observe Good Friday.

©2019 The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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