The Gadsden, Alabama City Council recently approved a local telecom ordinance as it waits for a final vote on statewide legislative guidelines for small cell technology. Legislation is expected to be passed by May 1, however, time and money spent on COVID-19 response may delay action.
Gadsden City attorney Lee Roberts has been working on local ordinance guidelines due to notice from the Alabama League of Municipalities about a grandfather clause that would allow cities to keep regulations that existed prior to the passing of the state bill. “This gives the city some ability to manage where towers are placed,” said Roberts, who said that right would be lost if the state law passed.
Council member Ben Reed also said, “If we don’t control it, they’ll walk all over us.”
According to The Gadsden Times, although two Verizon representatives spoke about small cells during a February city council work session, the city has been focusing its efforts on the statewide bill and has had little dialogue with Verizon. “This is an opportunity to get ahead and preserve some rights to our right-of-way,” Roberts said.
Gadsden’s new ordinance will allow the city to set site application fees and annual licensing fees of $270 per site, per year, per permit – the maximum allowable fees under FCC law. With the new ordinance adopted by a 4-0 vote, the Gadsden city council plans to conduct upcoming meetings by teleconference as members wait for word on the state bill.
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