GLENS FALLS — The Common Council wants to get regulations in place to deal with the next generation of cellphone towers to prevent a plethora of them popping up all over the city without any oversight.
The council has set a public hearing for March 26 at 7:25 p.m. on the new rules.
Mayor Dan Hall said the Council of Mayors had talked about the issue of getting some rules in place regarding so-called 5G technology. Unlike the tall cellphone towers of the past, this new equipment is often mounted on smaller poles placed in city rights of way. And they are not always aesthetically pleasing.
Hall cited an article in the Albany Times-Union that told of a woman who had come home to find a large pole in front of her house in the right of way.
“There was nothing she could do about it,” he said.
Hall assigned Ward 3 Supervisor Claudia Braymer, who is an attorney, to come up with some proposed regulations.
Braymer said the city did not have anything in its zoning code governing telecommunications facilities.
The new 5G technology is supported by equipment that resembles a suitcase that is attached to either an existing telephone pole, cellphone antenna or its own pole, according to Braymer. She said, ideally, the equipment would be placed on existing infrastructure such as telephone poles, traffic lights and streetlights or existing towers.
“The idea is to co-locate them, so we don’t have a zillion different little towers along the city streets,” she said.
The next preferred option would be a new tower on city-owned or other publicly owned properties, but excluding city-owned properties in the recreational district.
Other preferred locations would include industrial and commercial use areas.
New towers would be prohibited from being any closer than 200 feet to a residential building, house of worship, day care center, hospital, school or historically protected area.
Applicants seeking to install the smaller type of telecommunications equipment would be able to use a streamlined process through the city Building and Codes Department. Larger structures would have to be reviewed by the Planning Board, according to Braymer.
Any telecommunications provider would have to pay a deposit of $8,500 for any new wireless tower and $5,000 for any co-location or modification. The deposits would cover the costs for any consultant the city hires or other services needed to review the application. The fee would be capped at $17,000, or 10 percent of the highest annual lease payment made by the applicant to the owner of the property, according to the draft document.
In addition, there would be a special-use permit for $500 for up to five small wireless telecommunications facilities in one application, plus $100 for each additional one; $200 for co-location of other wireless telecommunications facilities; and $1,000 for new facilities.
Braymer said telecommunications companies would be required to minimize the visual impacts by burying telecommunications equipment and put only the equipment that cannot be placed underground above ground. They would be required to use downward directed lighting.
Braymer said it is good to have these regulations in place — even if they are not needed right now.
“To have 5G service would be great. I think it will take awhile for it to come to Glens Falls in reality,” she said.