Planning considering ordinance amendment concerning small cell facilities

By: 
Patrick Fisher, The New Prague Times

The New Prague Planning Commission began discussion at its Wednesday, March 28, meeting about a possible ordinance amendment concerning having small cell facilities, used for telecommunications, in right of ways.

City Planning Director Ken Ondich brought up the discussion. He explained that in 2017 the legislature approved amendments that allowed the deployment of boxes that hold small wireless facilities in public right of ways. New Prague’s current ordinance follows an older version of the ordinance where the placement of telecommunications in right of ways were subject to local permits. The 2017 amendment includes wireless service, which was not in the city’s original ordinance. Under the new law it makes small cell facilities and support structures permitted uses in all public right of ways.

The League of Minnesota Cities has developed a model ordinance for cities to consider. City staff and the the city attorney examined the model. If the city follows the proposed amendment the city can make small cell facilities a conditional use in a right of way in any single family residential area or any historic district.

Ondich said the city’s downtown could be considered a historical district. He asked the commission to consider if small cell facilities should be a permitted or conditional use. One of the recommendations is that a tower for a cell facility can’t be more than 50 feet in height. As part of the proposal the city could charge $150 year per pole and include a maintenance fee.

New Prague City Council representative Amy Jirik was concerned about a pole and cell facility being put up and it was not aesthetically pleasing.

Commissioner Bob Gilman also had concerns about who would be responsible for removal of such items. He also was concerned if an existing pole could handle the weight of the cell boxes. Ondich replied that a cell company could request to put up their own pole.

Gilman asked who was in control....

To see more on this story pick up the April 12, 2018 print edition of The New Prague Times. 

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