News and Press Releases Monday, May 18, 2020

ACHD Commission to vote on amendment to ACHD Ordinance for placement of small cell wireless facilities

The Ada County Highway District Commission will vote on whether to amend ACHD Code with the addition of a new policy that establishes requirements and standards for the placement of small cell wireless facilities within the public right-of-way. These new requirements and standards are designed to ensure 5G devices are placed safely and efficiently by wireless providers.

The FCC has already approved the use of 5G technology, so the Commission will be voting simply to approve this new ordinance and add these requirements and standards, or not.

In the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the 1996 Act), Congress enacted sweeping new provisions intended to facilitate the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. Under the Order, States and local governmental entities must allow the placement of wireless facilities in the public right-of-way. States and local governmental entities may make the use of the public right-of-way subject to regulatory objectives such as aesthetics or those relating to public safety and welfare.

Ordinance Number 244 implements the Order and it does so with competitively neutral and non-discriminatory standards and requirements relating to public safety and welfare, including locational standards and the American with Disabilities Act, as well as aesthetics. Notably absent from the Order are locational standards that states and local governmental entities may impose. ACHD has included important locational standards in Ordinance Number 244, thus making Ordinance Number 244 more restrictive than the Order.

In this regard, it is noteworthy that under Ordinance Number 244, site locations within residentially zoned areas must first be approved in writing by the local land use agency such as the cities or Ada County. Ordinance Number 244 is ACHD's response to federal law and the Order, with the protection of public safety and welfare a primary consideration.

The Ada County Highway District Commission meeting will be held this Wednesday (May 20th) at noon. The meeting will be live-streamed and recorded, and interested parties are welcome to participate via Zoom.

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