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JULY 28, 1997

Local News

Cell tower moratorium gives Bothell chance to develop regs

  by Andrew Walgamott
   The Bothell City Council affirmed a communication facility construction moratorium last week that will extend to December 2. "We want to make sure our regulations protect the public interest while meeting the needs of wireless providers," said Bill Wiselogle, co-interim director of community development.
   The moratorium will allow city staff to develop regulations governing placement and rent collection for cell towers. Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, cities have the authority to regulate wireless facilities through the zoning process. But cities cannot create prohibitive zoning, are pre-vented from considering the environmental and health effects of radio emissions, and must act on permits within a reasonable time, or issue written decisions if permits are denied.
   The Planning Commission will now craft a land-use ordinance potentially limiting towers to existing antenna structures, publicly-owned water towers and in commercial and industrial zones. Also, an ordinance will be developed to allow the city to collect rent from towers which site on public facilities.
   "The approach we're taking is to protect residential areas by severely limiting the number of locations to hopefully the minimum necessary to achieve adequate coverage," Wiselogle said. Metricom of Los Gatos, California currently has a project which would place wireless antennas on approximately 73 existing power, telephone and street light poles throughout Bothell. Their application is vested as it was received before the moratorium went into effect June 2.