March 31, 2016 — Declaring that wireless facilities are “critical for Kansas citizens to have access to broadband and other advanced technology and information,” the Kansas Legislature recently passed legislation that streamlines the permitting process for deployment of and upgrades to wireless networks. The measure, which supplements federal law in the areas of small cells, rights of way and in-building wireless, now awaits the signature of the governor.
“[The law] should result in local municipalities easing of some long held hindrances to wireless network expansion and growth,” according to the Missouri/Kansas Wireless Association.
Timing for Review of Wireless Applications
The municipality must grant or deny an application within 150 days for a new wireless support structure or within 90 days of receiving an application for a substantial modification to an existing wireless support structure, or it will be deemed approved. Additionally, moratoriums cannot be instituted on applications.
House Bill 2131 streamlines small cell zoning applications. Applicants for up to 25 individual small cell facilities of similar design will be permitted to file a consolidated application and receive a single permit for the installation, construction, maintenance, and repair of a small cell network, instead of filing separate applications for each individual facility. The municipality must act on the submission within 60 days.
Construction of Wireless Services within the Public Right-of-way
The bill confirms the right of a wireless service provider to deploy wireless services in the public right-of-way. However, the municipality must consider input from property owners adjoining the affected public right-of-way. A municipality also has the right to relocate a facility in the public right-of-way at the site owner’s expense, as long as it treats all users of right-of-way similarly. A fee may not be assessed to a wireless deployment in the public right-of-way unless it is assessed to other providers. Location in the public right-of-way may be prohibited if it is in the public’s best interest.
In-building Wireless Off Limits to Municipal Zoning
Even though the bill allows the municipality to exercise its zoning authority within its boundaries, it may not exert control on small cell facilities or a DAS located in an interior structure or upon the site of any campus, stadium, or athletic facility.