Montgomery County Council Debates Next Steps for Small Cells

The Montgomery County Council continues to consider a proposed zoning text amendment (ZTA) that would allow the attachment of small cells to existing utility poles in residential areas. 

Time — specifically when to take action on the residential zoning proposal — was the central issue of discussion. As Bethesda Magazine reports:

Council President Hans Riemer said during a work session Tuesday that now is as good a time as ever to pass the legislation in the event that the county takes the FCC to court over the matter. Failing to pass the measure, he said, would show weakness.

Timing concerns included (1) the recent FCC small cell order which preempts local governments on certain issues and is anticipated to be challenged by a number of jurisdictions across the nation; (2) elections in a few weeks will lead to many new faces on the council unfamiliar with the details of the 2 year+ local process; and (3) anticipation that another statewide small cell bill will be introduced during the 2019 session.

The article also discussed outstanding technical issues that still need to be addressed including setbacks distances from buildings and where conditional use zoning should apply. The council will discuss the proposal again at their October 23, 2018 council meeting.

For more information:

County Council Ambivalent Over Whether To Take Action on Small Cell Antennas Bill (Bethesda Magazine)

FCC Approves Small Cell Order; Limits Local Authority (Conduit Street)

Montgomery County Sets Zoning Standards for Small Cell Antennas (Conduit Street)

Statewide Small Cell Bill Falters; Focus on Local Efforts (Conduit Street)