At a recent public hearing and information session, Madison city engineers set expectations as the city preps for small cell placement on the public rights-of-way, reported the Wisconsin State Journal. Carriers could install small cells as early as next month.
City officials expressed frustration over the lack of power they have to regulate the infrastructure. The city expects that eventually the small cells will be placed every few blocks as either free-standing poles or attached to existing poles and streetlights, noted Robert Phillips, city engineer. “It’s a lot of poles,” he added.
Residents also communicated concerns over small cell placement near their homes, potential health impacts, aesthetics and effects on animals, according to the Journal. Per the FCC, the city can’t ban or place any regulations on the small cells. “We’re limited,” Phillips said. “We cannot say no. I’m sorry.”
Alderman Tag Evers added, “Many of the big questions that residents have can be bundled down to a single concern, and that is, ‘How can the city ensure safety to its residents?’ What I’m hearing is that it can’t. And that concerns me.” To address health concerns, Evers suggested making cell phone providers responsible for removing the antennas if a consensus among the scientific community emerges, finding small cells cause adverse health impacts.
According to Phillips, the city Engineering Division is developing guidelines to preserve city aesthetics and address resident feedback. Current plans include limiting the number of small cells to one for small-sized blocks, two for medium blocks and three for every block over 601 feet.
The plans also say new poles cannot be more than 10 percent higher than existing poles and cannot exceed 50 feet; newly constructed poles must be aligned with current ones, be smooth and straight, plus not obstruct vistas or become a traffic hazard.
The Engineering Division is trying to finalize guidelines before August 1, when an ordinance will go into effect requiring wireless providers to apply for a permit to install small cells.
July 19, 2019