Backlash! Carmel City Council Says ‘Not So Fast’ to Small Cells

May 16, 2017 —

By J. Sharpe Smith

Senior Editor, AGL’s eDigest

Even though the Indiana legislature has jumped on the bandwagon to facilitate small cells in the right-of-way, city officials in Carmel, Indiana, took advantage of a loophole in the law and exempted the town from Senate Enrolled Act 213, according to the Current in Carmel. Local action against the bill is spreading throughout the state.

The bill makes the deployment of a small cell and associated supporting structure in the public right-of-way a permitted use and exempt from local zoning review if the height of the supporting structure does not exceed 50 feet or the height of any nearby utility pole by 10 feet.

Carmel’s mayor, Jim Brainard, said the measure would have taken away local control of the streets locally elected officials. He also feared that housing values would go down and it would be harder to recruit new businesses to a town with unsightly small cells.

The City of Carmet requires all future utilities infrastructure to be installed underground, unless otherwise approved by the city. So any proposed small cell deployment must be receive a waiver. Fort Wayne, Indiana, took a similar action. The Shelbyville (Indiana) Board of Works also took action to control the placement of small cells in the right-of-way.

“Municipalities in Boone County, Indiana, and all over Indiana are racing to keep local governments in control of where small cell phone towers are situated,” according Elizabeth Pearl, The Lebanon Reporter.

In April, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing small cell legislation that hasn’t even pass the California legislature, according to In Minnesota, where a small cell bill has yet to pass, the Crosslake City Council has stated it should have authority over small cell deployment in the rights of way.