HB 1258 and SB 405 gut local zoning authority to address the siting of wireless towers. Specifically, they allow wireless companies to place cell towers up to 50 feet tall within rights-of-way without local control. Additionally, for towers of greater height, the bill hamstrings localities’ ability to obtain information and address citizen concerns through the public hearing process.
ACTION REQUIRED – A link to send an email to Governor Northam is here. The telephone number is 804.786.2211.
- This legislation will not expand wireless service to rural and underserved areas as there is no requirement to build or provide service in these areas.
- This measure allows a wireless structure up to 50 feet in height to be placed within rights-of-way without local control.
- These provisions remove the ability of our citizens to have meaningful input over the character of their communities. Local zoning recognizes the importance of citizen input.
HB1427 and SB823 set a limit on what Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and localities may charge for the use of publicly owned rights-of-way by the wireless industry for the placement of poles and towers. VDOT negotiated with the wireless industry on this legislation, but VACo was not at the table and did not agree to these bills. Statewide fees will not reflect the true value of the use of the public rights-of-way.
- Virginia’s roads and highways are publicly-owned assets whose value has been enhanced through significant investments in construction and maintenance.
- Local elected bodies are empowered to negotiate, through contract, with private entities for the use of publicly-owned land.
- The state should not usurp local authority in the management of locality owned assets.
VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP