The proposed ordinance establishes new regulations for the installation of private telecommunication infrastructure in the right-of-way.
A new network of telecommunications infrastructure has emerged in response to growing capacity demands. These systems are comprised of a series of small individual antenna locations, or nodes, that are linked to a larger hub site, typically an existing cellular communications tower site. Small Cells are linked to a larger hub site either by fiber or by radio transmission, while systems where each node is linked together by above or below-ground fiber optic cable are known as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS). The proposed amendments seek to establish rules for both types.
Small Cell and outdoor DAS nodes can be located in rights-of-way that may already be constrained and crowded by existing above and below ground utilities. Because of the flexibility in design and relatively small footprint, Small Cell and outdoor DAS nodes can adapted to a variety of residential, non-residential and highly urbanized areas.
The City's existing engineering and zoning regulations were developed for traditional telecommunications towers, rather than the smaller and more discrete Small Cell/DAS facilities. Further, the Land Development Code regulates private communication equipment installation on private property outside of the right-of-way. The proposed code establishes regulations for wireless communication facility installations in the right-of-way.
The Municipal Planning Board recommended approval of the proposed ordinance on January 19, 2016 (case LDC2015-00495) (with the exception of the modifications to Ch. 23 "Communication Right-of-Way Utilization" as that chapter is outside of the Land Development Code). City Council approved the MPB minutes on February 29, 2016 and approved the ordinance on first reading on March 28, 2016.