Rockland approves telecommunication tower ordinance language

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 3:30pm

ROCKLAND — Rockland City Council members have approved an ordinance and amended a special-use class ordinance as a way to further establish guidelines around future cell tower proposals within city limits.

The action follows the recent application for a monopole to be sited on Camden Street (Route 1). That application was turned down by the Rockland Planning Board, but the discussion opened the door for the city to consider rules for governing the siting and erection of cell towers, in general.

In a memorandum to Council, February 5, The Comprehensive Planning Commission  concluded that Ordinance Amendment #6 - Special Use Classes - Telecommunications Towers is consistent with the City of Rockland 200Comprehensive Plan, as Amended 12/14/2011 and 03/14/2012. The ordinance is an amendment to the City’s zoning ordinance establishing telecommunications towers as a Special Use Class for the purposes of establishing standards for the citing and height of such towers, and antennas attached thereto, and encourage the use of existing structures as an alternative to new tower construction, encourage joint use of towers, encourage design and construction of towers and antennas which minimize adverse visual impacts, and more.

Chapter 13, Future Land Use, recommends that the City "limit the number, location, and height of telecommunication towers" in order to reach the goal "to foster land uses that will enhance the residential opportunities and promote Rockland's role as the economic center of Knox County." The suggested strategy to achieve this goal is to "develop a tower ordinance." 

With the approval of The Comprehensive Planning Committee, and adding in suggestions by the City Attorney, the Council members considered their own amendment proposals before giving both ordinances a final once-over, with a few minutes spent on each, prior to the March 3 unanimous votes by Council, which took place during the March agenda-setting meeting.

The votes first approved language structured by City Attorney Mary Costigan in “#5 Ch. 19, Sec. 19-302 Definitions; Public Utilities/Telecommunications Towers.” Councilors then clarified the towers as Special Use by amending “#6 Ch. 19, Sec. 19-309 Special Use Class; Telecommunications Towers.”

Ordinance #5 language defines a tower as any mast, pole, monopole used to support one or more antennas, used to transmit, receive, distribute, provide, or offer wireless telecommunications services. 

Councilor Valli Geiger entered a motion to approve the ordinance, provided that an amendment was created that would strike the words “and primarily” from “Telecommunications tower – any mast, pole, monopole, lattice tower, or any structure designed and primarily used to support one or more antennas.” 

The sentence now reads “Telecommunications tower – any mast, pole, monopole, lattice tower, or any structure designed used to support one or more antennas used to transmit receive, distribute, provide, or offer wireless telecommunications services.”

Councilor Nate Davis questioned a clause regarding height restrictions: In the event of dense vegetation and/or other substantial obstacles to signal propagation, towers can extend to a height of no more than 20% above the average tree canopy height within a thousand feet of the proposed tower. 

“That seems quite geographically specific, and I don’t know that it actually makes sense for the areas in Rockland that are indeed 1,000 feet away from residential areas,” he said. “I’m wondering if it makes sense to include, or if we should strike it, or if anyone has any opinions on that. It could also be read potentially as restricting towers to under a hundred feet in height in case of a low tree canopy. In any case, it seems like it was specific to the community that adopted it. I’m just wondering if it’s relevant or appropriate here.”

Geiger provided her understanding of the particular height restriction statement.

“In general, it’s saying that no tower can exceed 100 feet in height. The exception being, if it’s going to be located in an area that has a higher tree canopy, therefore making it difficult for the signals to go out cleanly. In those cases, we could consider allowing it to extend the height to no more than 20% above that, but not to exceed 120 feet. 

The ordinances – Prior to the March 3 amendments – can be read below:

ORDINANCE AMENDMENT Words and Phrases - Public Utility 

THE CITY OF ROCKLAND HEREBY ORDAINS THAT CHAPTER 19 Zoning and Planning, Section 19-302 Words and Phrases Defined, Public Utility, BE AMENDED AS FOLLOWS: 

Public Utility. "Public Utility" includes facilities such as, but not limited to substations, pumping stations, sewer treatment facilities, water treatment facilities, transmission lines, pipelines, studios, transmitters, receivers, signal towers, and other buildings, structures or uses necessary or accessory to the operation, or conduct of activities regulated by the Public Utilities Board and businesses or activities which are not so regulated but which provide a public service to the City of Rockland, including voice, image or data transmission, radio, television and cable television that are available for use by the general public. For purposes of this Ordinance, Public Utilities do not include Telecommunications Towers. 

Telecommunications Tower: any mast, pole, monopole, lattice tower, or other structure designed and primarily used to support one or more antennas used to transmit, receive, distribute, provide, or offer wireless telecommunications services. 

Sponsor: Councilor Geiger Originator: Councilor Geiger 

 

 

CITY OF ROCKLAND, MAINE 

ORDINANCE AMENDMENT #6 IN CITY COUNCIL 

January 13, 2020 

ORDINANCE AMENDMENT Special Use Classes - Telecommunications Towers 

 

THE CITY OF ROCKLAND HEREBY ORDAINS THAT CHAPTER 19 Zoning and Planning, Section 19-309 Special Use Classes, Telecommunications Towers, BE AMENDED AS FOLLOWS: 

Sec. 19-309 Special Use Classes 

  1. 4. Telecommunication Towers A. Statement of purpose and findings: The City Council of the Rockland, Maine, hereby declares that the purposes of this section are to: 
  2. establish standards for the siting of telecommunications towers and antennas; 2. encourage the use of existing structures as an alternative to new tower construction; 3. encourage the joint use of towers; 
  3. encourage the design and construction of towers and antennae which minimize adverse visual impacts; 
  4. ensure compliance of all telecommunications facilities with current federal, state, and local regulations; 
  5. facilitate the provision of wireless telecommunications services; and 7. prevent harm to the health, welfare, and visual environment of Rockland and its citizens. 
  6. Requirements for facility permit submissions In addition to any other materials required for a standard permit under this section or any other ordinance of the City of Rockland, all applicants for permits to construct a telecommunications tower or antenna shall submit visual impact demonstrations using photo simulations of the proposed facility as it would be seen from residential areas, public rights of way, and public parks and other sites as deemed appropriate by the Planning Department. 
  7. C. Location of facilities on or near historic structures, historic districts, and scenic corridors Towers and antennae may be approved on or near historic structures and districts and designated scenic corridors by special exception and only if so concealed as to be substantially invisible. The views of, and vistas from, such structures, districts, and corridors shall not be impaired or diminished by the placement of telecommunications towers and antennae. 
  8. D. Height Restrictions 
  9. 1. No new telecommunications facility shall exceed 100 feet in height. No new telecommunications facility shall be located in any residential zone or with 1,000 feet of any residential zone, TB1, TB2, TB3 zo However, in the event of dense vegetation or other substantial obstacles to signal propagation, facilities can extend to a height of no more than 20 percent above the average tree canopy height within 1,000 feet of the proposed facility. 
  10. 2. Telecommunications facilities that simulate objects that typically occur in landscapes similar to the proposed location (except billboards, electrical transmission, or telecommunications towers) may exceed 100 feet in height if, based on the judgment of the City Planning Department, it would appear in context on the landscape, is aesthetically acceptable, and would be a preferable alternative to an undisguised fac
  11. 3. Telecommunications facilities located atop or within existing buildings or structures may result in an overall increase in height of the structure of no more than ten percent of the structure's height without the facility or the maximum height allowed in the zoning district in which the structure is located, whichever is less
  12. E. Co-location 
  13. 1. In all applications for construction of a new facility, the applicant must prove by substantial evidence that a bona fide need exists for the facility and that no reasonable combination of locations, techniques, or technologies will obviate the need. The applicant must further prove that it has made all reasonable efforts to procure antenna space on existing facilities and that the cost of co-location exceeds the cost of a new facility by at least fifty percent
  14. 2. Prior to the issuance of a permit for a new tower, the applicant shall demonstrate commitment to joint use as follows
  15. a. The applicant requesting the permit shall submit evidence to the city demonstrating that a genuine effort has been made to solicit additional users for the proposed new tower. Evidence of this shall include, at a minimum, copies of notices sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, to all other providers of celular and wireless communications services within Knox County and adjacent counties, advising of the intent to construct a new tower, identifying the location, inviting the joint use and sharing of costs, and requesting a written response within fifteen business days
  16. b. The applicant shall sign an instrument, maintained by the city, agreeing to encourage and promote the joint use of telecommunications towers within the city and, to that extent, committing that there shall be no unreasonable act or omission that would have the effect of excluding, obstructing or delaying joint use of any tower where fair and just market reasonable compensation is offered for such us
  17. Setback No new tower shall be constructed without a setback from the tower's base of at least 1.5 times the tower height to a public or private road and at least 2.5 times the tower height to the nearest property line. 
  18. Equipment shelters. No equipment shed for a telecommunications facility shall exceed 750 square feet in area nor 12 feet in height. All such sheds shall be screened with vegetation or other aesthetically pleasing materials. Furthermore, all such sheds shall be secured with approved fencing and a locked gate
  19. Signs No commercial messages nor any other signs beyond safety warnings and an identification sign of not greater than 6 square feet shall be placed on any tower or facility
  20. 1. Electronic emissions and electromagnetic radiation 
  21. Prior to commencing regular operation of the facility, all facility owners and operators must submit a certificate of compliance with all current Federal Communications Commission regulations concerning electromagnetic radiation and other electronic emissions applicable to the facility
  22. 2. All facility operators and owners must sign an agreement, to be maintained by the city, agreeing to bring facilities into compliance with any new federal, state, or local laws or regulations concerning electromagnetic radiation and other electronic emissions applicable to the facility within 120 days of the effective date of the regulati
  23. Removal of facilities The owner of a facility shall establish a $10,000 cash security fund or provide the City with an irrevocable letter of credit in the same amount to secure the cost of removing an antenna, antenna array, or tower that has been abandoned. In the event of a transfer of ownership, the seller shall be responsible for notifying the buyer of this requirement and for notifying the City of the transfer. 

Sponsor: Councilor Geiger Originator: Councilor Geiger 

 

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO ORDINANCE AMENDMENT #6 

ORDINANCE AMENDMENT Special Use Classes - Telecommunications Towers 

 

THE CITY OF ROCKLAND HEREBY ORDAINS THAT CHAPTER 19 Zoning and Planning, Section 19-309 Special Use Classes, Telecommunications Towers, BE AMENDED AS FOLLOWS: 

Sec. 19-309 Special Use Classes 

  1. Special Classes. No building may be erected, altered, or used, and no land may be used, for any of the following special use classes in the Residential A and AA zones. In other zones, the Planning Board, applying the procedures and standards set forth in Chapter 16, Article II, may approve such use in any zone other than Residential A or AA zones, except as provided for Telecommunication Towers below, upon application, notice, and public hearing, and upon a determination that the use will not be detrimental or injurious to the neighborhood, and that there will be provided fencing and screening adequate to provide visual and auditory barriers from other properties and public rights of way, and that the applicant has demonstrated compliance with all other applicable City ordinances. All owners of property located within 300 feet of the lot lines of the subject parcel shall be notified of the Special Class application, in writing and at least seven days prior to the public hearing, and shall be provided an opportunity to be heard at such hearing 
  2. A. Cemetery; Municipal use (not otherwise provided for); 
  3. Public utility use father than as provided by Section 19-304137B) Exception: Existing signal towers located in Residential A or AA zones may be expanded if such expansion willhouse equipment that will be available for emergency responders. Tower expansions under this exception shall follow the same notification and review process as specified above. Any expansion will increase existing tower no more than 25 feet in height. All noise and lighting standards for Residential Zones A&AA must be met for any such expansion); 

Stables, public; saddle horses for hire; Transformer stations; Wind power generation equipment; Temporary structures that are not required to conform with the Building Code or the design standards of the zone in which such a structure is located, that house a use incidental to and reasonably required by an occupant of residential property on the same parcel for a non-commercial purpose (other than the storage or repair of a recreational or fishing vessel, or fishing equipment), or such temporary structures that house a use incidental to and reasonably required for a commercial or industrial use, on the same parcel as the principal commercial or industrial use or on another parcel under the same ownership. Such temporary structures shall be removed within one (1) year at the owner's expense, unless the permit therefor shall have been extended by the Board for not more than one year. Applications for such temporary structure permits must be accompanied by a bond, bill of sale, or other instrument acceptable to the City Manager to guaranty the removal and disposal of the building. Eff: 07/11/18 

  1. H

Distributed Power Generation Facilities having a capacity to generate electricity at the rate of 500 or more kilowatts AC. Distributed Power Generation Facilities having a capacity of less than 500 kilowatts also may be sited in any zone other than the Residential A or AA zones, but shall not require Planning Board approval. No Distributed Power Generation Facility may be fueled by uranium, enriched uranium, plutonium, solid waste, construction and demolition debris, or treated or engineered wood products. When sited in a residential, rural residential, or transitional business zone or in the Downtown Zone, a Distributed Power Generation Facility that is not a Community-Based Renewable Energy Project must be located either on the same lot as the use to be served by the electricity and/or thermal energy supplied by the Facility, or on an adjacent lot. For this purpose, “solid waste" shall have the same meaning as under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6903, as amended. Eff: 08/10/16 Telecommunication Towers, in accordance with subsection 4 below

  1. Telecommunication Towers. A. Statement of purpose and findings: The City Council of the Rockland, Maine, hereby declares that the purposes of this section are to: 
  2. establish standards for the siting of telecommunications towers and antennas; 2. encourage the use of existing structures as an alternative to new tower construction; 3. encourage the joint use of towers
  3. encourage the design and construction of towers and antennae which minimize adverse visual impacts; 
  4. ensure compliance of all telecommunications facilities with current federal, state, and local regulations
  5. facilitate the provision of wireless telecommunications services; and 
  6. 7. prevent harm to the health, welfare, and visual environment of Rockland and its citizens
  7. Prohibited locations. No new telecommunications tower shall be located in any residential zone or within 1,000 feet of any residential zone, TB1, TB2, or TB3 zones. 
  8. Requirements for facility tower permit submissions. In addition to any other materials required for a standard permit under this section or any other ordinance of the City of Rockland, all applicants for permits to construct a telecommunications tower or antenna shall submit visual impact demonstrations using photo simulations of the proposed facility tower as it would be seen from residential areas, public rights of way, and public parks and other sites as deemed appropriate by the Planning Department. 
  9. CD. Location of facilities towers on or near historic structures, historic districts, and scenic Towers and antennae may be approved on or near historic structures and districts and designated scenic corridors by special exception and only if so concealed as to be substantially invisible. 

The views of, and vistas from, such structures, districts, and corridors shall not be impaired or diminished by the placement of telecommunications towers and antennae. 

  1. DE. Height Restrictions. 
  2. No new telecommunications tower facility shall exceed 100 feet in height. Na hora telecommunications facility shaltbe located in ankesidentiatzone ohw h,000 feet of any Fesidentiał zone, FBI, FB2, TB3zones-However, in the event of dense vegetation or other substantial obstacles to signal propagation, facilities towers can extend to a height of no more than 20 percent above the average tree canopy height within 1,000 feet of the proposed tower facility. 
  3. Telecommunications facilities that simulate objects that typically occur in landscapes similar to the proposed location (except billboards, electrical transmission, or telecommunications towers) may exceed 100 feet in height if, based on the judgment of the City Planning Department, it would appear in context on the landscape, is aesthetically acceptable, and would be a preferable alternative to an undisguised facility tower. 
  4. Telecommunications facilities located atop or within existing buildings or structures may result in an overall increase in height of the structure of no more than ten percent of the structure's height without the facility tower or the maximum height allowed in the zoning district 

in which the structure is located, whichever is less

  1. Co-location. 
  2. In all applications for construction of a new facility tower, the applicant must prove by substantial evidence that a bona fide need exists for the facility tower and that no reasonable combination of locations, techniques, or technologies will obviate the need. The applicant must further prove that it has made all reasonable efforts to procure antenna space on existing facilities and that the cost of co-location exceeds the cost of a new facility tower by at least fifty percent. 
  3. Prior to the issuance of a permit for a new tower, the applicant shall demonstrate commitment to joint use as follows. 
  4. The applicant requesting the permit shall submit evidence to the city demonstrating that a genuine effort has been made to solicit additional users for the proposed new tower. Evidence of this shall include, at a minimum, copies of notices sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, to all other providers of cellular and wireless communications services within Knox County and adjacent counties, advising of the intent to construct a new tower, identifying the location, inviting the joint use and sharing of costs, and requesting a written response within fifteen business days. 
  5. b. The applicant shall sign an instrument, maintained by the city, agreeing to encourage and promote the joint use of telecommunications towers within the city and, to that extent, committing that there shall be no unreasonable act or omission that would have the effect of excluding, obstructing or delaying joint use of any tower where fair and just market reasonable compensation is offered for such use
  6. In order to encourage and facilitate co-location, existing signal towers located in any zone may be expanded if such expansion will house equipment that will be available for emergency responders. Tower expansions under this exception shall follow the same notification and review process as specified above. Any expansion may increase the height of the existin

tower greater than 100 feet, but in no case shall the increase be more than 25 feet in height. All noise and lighting standards must be met for any such expansion. 

  1. FG. Setback. No new tower shall be constructed without a setback from the tower's base of at least 1.5 times the tower height to a public or private road and at least 2.5 times the tower height to the nearest property line. 
  2. G Equipment shelters. No equipment shed for a telecommunications facility tower shall exceed 750 square feet in area nor 12 feet in height. All such sheds shall be screened with vegetation or other aesthetically pleasing materials. Furthermore, all such sheds shall be secured with approved fencing and a locked gate. 
  3. HI. Signs. No commercial messages nor any other signs beyond safety warnings and an identification sign of not greater than 6 square feet shall be placed on any tower or facility tower. 
  4. Electronic emissions and electromagnetic radiation. 
  5. Prior to commencing regular operation of the facility tower, all facility tower owners and operators must submit a certificate of compliance with all current Federal Communications Commission regulations concerning electromagnetic radiation and other electronic emissions applicable to the facility tower. 
  6. 2. All facility tower operators and owners must sign an agreement, to be maintained by the city, agreeing to shall bring facilities towers into compliance with any new federal, state, or local laws or regulations concerning electromagnetic radiation and other electronic emissions applicable to the facility tower within 120 days of the effective date of the regulationsin accordance with such regula
  7. Removal of facilities. The owner of a facility tower shall establish a $10,000 cash security fund or provide the City with an irrevocable letter of credit in the same amount to secure the cost of removing an antenna, antenna array, or tower that has been abandoned. In the event of a transfer of ownership, the seller shall be responsible for notifying the buyer of this requirement and for notifying the City of the transfer