As we previously noted, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules this September that restricts the kinds and types of limitations and standards that local governments can set for wireless facilities seeking access to the ROW. This includes limitations and standards set by local governments for aesthetic, safety, and system resiliency purposes. Standards must be in writing and cannot be unreasonably burdensome. The new rules also include a “shot clock” for reviewing applications for small cell wireless facilities; for collocation on preexisting structures within 60 days and a deadline of 90 days for new builds.
These new rules for local governments go into effect January 14, 2019. While efforts are still underway to fight implementation of the order, municipalities should begin to get their houses in order on the handling of small cells, particularly with regard to ordinance updates, application processes, and aesthetic requirements. Municipal practices should be reviewed with your municipal attorney to ensure compliance with the new FCC standards. The National League of Cities, the League’s national affiliate has published a small cell infrastructure municipal action guide, which is filled with information your municipality may find helpful when implementing the new rules.
We will be sure to update our members on this matter as it develops, but for now, all municipalities should plan for the January 14, 2019, implementation date.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, x137.