New rules set for wireless providers

Wireless communications providers now have some rules to comply with if they want to set up their new, smaller antennas on public property in Webster City.

“If they do come to town this spells out where they can be and what they can look like,” City Attorney Zach Chizek told the City Council Monday evening.

“If you don’t have this, it’s the Wild West,” he added.

The council unanimously approved the new small wireless facility antenna/tower right-of-way siting policy Monday.

The policy states ”Installations shall foster an aesthically pleasing environment, prevent visual blight, protect and preserve public safety and general welfare, and maintain the character of residential and non-residential areas consistent with the adopted plans and compliance of applicable state and federal legislation.”

The policy contains pages of specfic rules for the devices. For example, any antenna must be at least 500 feet from any other small wireless facility.

Under the policy, wireless providers must get a license from the city government to put a device on public property. They must pay a fee of up to $500 for up to five small wireless facilities. The fee is to be adjusted every five years based on the Consumer Price Index.

The policy was spurred by Federal Communications Commission regulations issued in December. According to Chizek, those regulations essentially gave the companies the right to put their devices on any public facility or right-of-way. Cities were given 120 days to develop policies for the devices.

Organizations representing local governments filed lawsuits in federal court over the regulations, Chizek said, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them.

Because of that appeals court decision, cities must quickly create regulations governing how the small wireless facilities can be placed in their jurisdictions.