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  • By Lisa Brody

Birmingham seeks to regulate small cell networks

After the state legislature passed a pair of bills which will severely limit municipal authority regarding the location, size, height, and approval and fees for poles, antennas and other equipment for wireless telecommunication and cable/video service facilities in public road rights-of-way in order to support 5G infrastructure, Birmingham city commissioners begrudgingly but unanimously approved an amendment to a city ordinance to make them hidden or adapt to their environment in the city.

Many Oakland County municipalities are opposed to the legislation as it supersedes local control and limits franchise fees for placement. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the legislation.

“There has been legislation to support 5G infrastructure, and there has been concerns about incursions into rights of ways,” city manager Joe Valentine said to commissioners. “We wanted to establish a resolution to clarify it, to make sure the equipment is hidden as much as possible, and to provide some controls as much as possible to this new legislation.”

“Does this mean they can come into your community and put it wherever they want?” commissioner Rackeline Hoff asked.

“Yes,” Valentine responded. “So this is getting ahead of it, saying they can't put it next to a driveway, or if in the downtown, they'd have to paint the small cell technology.”

It was noted the ordinance covers both residential and commercial communities.

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