MACo: Bill on Small Cells Removes Public Input and Transparency, Favors Corporate Interests

On Tuesday, Natasha Mehu testified on a panel in opposition to SB 937 Wireless Facilities – Installation and Regulation alongside representatives from multiple counties, cities, and organizations.

Although Counties do believe that it is important to advance small cell technology, MACo and its affiliates believe that Maryland deserves a better path forward to delivering improved wireless “5G” service in the years to come.

SB 937 would significantly restrict local zoning authority, advancing corporate interests ahead of community input and needs. Counties hope to forge a balanced path forward for continued wireless roll-out across Maryland, but this cannot be accomplished with SB 937.

From the MACo Testimony:

Planning and zoning are central components of local authority under Maryland law – this is the essential means for citizen and community input. Local governments must be able to protect the safety and interests of their communities as necessary though zoning reviews and approvals. Counties must also have the ability to respond to the contours of historically important, culturally significant, and aesthetically designed areas. SB 937 instead imposes a statewide “permitted use” inside and outside of the local rights of way. In other words, it grants the wireless industry a right to deploy small cells (up to 28 cubic feet in size, on poles 50 feet high) wherever they want in the public right of way – even in communities with undergrounded utilities — with no substantive local government or community input. This sets a dangerous precedent of usurping local zoning authority over local rights of way.

For more on 2019 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.

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