Council Passes ZTA Reducing Setbacks for Cell Phone Antennas

The County Council on Tuesday approved a zoning text amendment intended to facilitate the adoption of 5G wireless technologies in the county.

Zoning Text Amendment 22-01, Antennas on Existing Structures—Use Standards reduces the current setbacks for antennas from 60 feet to 30 feet to encourage colocation of antennas on existing infrastructure, reduce the proliferation of cell phone towers and treat these antennas similarly to telecommunications towers to provide better service to residents, according to a press release.

The vote was 7-1 with Councilmember Sidney Katz (D-District 3) the lone “no” vote and Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-District 5) abstaining.

“These zoning changes continue the Council’s work over more than six years to ensure a smooth, efficient and thoughtful deployment of the infrastructure required to support advancements in wireless technology,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large), who sponsored the ZTA.

“While a small, but vocal group of critics has opposed these measures and sought delay at every turn, I ask: if we don’t embrace these changes, how are we supposed to compete for job growth and quality of life with our regional counterparts who have already moved forward on common sense wireless zoning reforms?” he added.

The new ZTA works in tandem with ZTA 19-07, Telecommunications Towers – Limited Use, which the council adopted in July 2021.

ZTA 22-01 also will require maintenance of the antennas and encourages tree loss minimization as well as preferential placement.

“Small-Cell Cellular Antennas at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis” by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0