Energy and Technology Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING ESTABLISHING A STATE-WIDE PLAN AND PROCESS FOR SITING SMALL CELL ANTENNA AND DISTRIBUTED ANTENNA SYSTEMS.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
SEN. SLOSSBERG, 14th Dist.
REP. DIMASSA, 116th Dist.
REP. FERRARO, 117th Dist.
SEN. WINFIELD, 10th Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
Sen. Slossberg proposed this bill to address concerns that there is no state wide plan for siting small cell canister antennas. Also addressing the lack of process for including municipalities Participation in where the equipment will be sited.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Katie Dykes, Chair, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority
Submitted testimony in opposition to the bill stating that it was redundant as the Connecticut Siting Council as well as PURA each have an approval process in pace for the placement of small cell antenna and distributed antenna systems. Furthermore they believe that additional siting requirements infringes on federal law by establishing a barrier to market entry for these providers as well as creating impermissible disparate treatment among providers of telecommunications services.
PURA believes that the Connecticut Siting Council has already established a state wide plan for the siting of all telecommunication facilities. A process that provides notice to adjoining property owners as well as to the municipalities where the facilities are being placed. The process also provides a full adjudicatory process when objections are received. Finally Federal law prohibits both discriminatory treatment among like providers as well as creating barriers to market entry. The regulatory process and moratorium established by this bill are in violation of federal law.
Robin Stein, Chairman, Connecticut Siting Counsel
Submitted testimony in opposition to this legislation, stating that the Connecticut Siting Counsel does not have jurisdiction over small cell and DAS attachments to utility poles in public rights-of-way but has a number of concerns with the bill. The bill proposes to require the council to establish a statewide plan for siting small cells and DAS in the public rights of way. This is duplicative of an existing statute CGS 16-5ee. The bill also proposes to require the process for participation of municipalities where there are public rights-of-way. This is also duplicative of CGS 4-176, stating that through this process the petitioner is required to submit a copy of the petition to the chief elected official of the host municipality. He also feels that the moratorium that this bill proposes is in direct contravention of the Federal TCA. Finally they also believe that this bill could violate federal law by unintentionally prohibiting the expansion of personal wireless service and that would impede the deployment if the nationwide public safety wireless broadband network.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Senator Gayle Slossberg, 14th District
Submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating this legislation seeks to require a state-wide plan and process for siting small cell canister antenna and distributed antenna systems. In addition, it would require that any process established include the participation of the municipality where this equipment will be sited. Technology is changing drastically, and there is a need for the added capacity antenna systems provide. There is currently no statutory framework in place that keeps up with changing technology, and wireless companies are able to install antenna systems without the meaningful input from towns where these antenna systems are located. Towns should be able to provide input regarding health, as to safety, and the aesthetic involved with these antenna systems presence. Although it is advised, these wireless companies are not obligated to file notice to towns when an antenna is going to be installed.
1. Moratorium − During which time notice and a meeting with the town's CEO is required
● If there is no objection − then it may go forward
● If there is an objection − hold until process is developed
2. Develop a Plan and Process
Plan – Set out priorities
● Least intrusive technology
● Safety in location
● Provide competition among companies
● Establish jurisdiction between CSC and PURA
Process – Meeting between CSC, PURA, OCC, towns and wireless providers
● Minimum to Address:
○ Require notice to towns
○ Establish town wide plan
○ Allow towns to give meaningful input, which will become the basis for approval or rejection
○ Establish rent mechanism
3. Bring back plan and process to the Energy and Technology Committee for approval
Kevin Lembo, State Comptroller, State of Connecticut
Submitted testimony in support of this bill, he believes that establishing a plan and a consistent process for siting theses antennae should streamline the adoption of this technology for business and interested communities. He also supports the emphasis on municipal participation in the proposed legislation. The state should be consistently reviewing its telecommunications regulations to ensure that we are attractive to new investments, and are encouraging the development of networks.
Representative Charles Ferraro, 117th District
Submitted testimony stating that in consideration to the many documented health concerns and the proliferation of cell towers in recent years throughout the United States, it is essential that further proliferation only be accomplished through a state-wide plan, that includes the municipalities, in which proposed cell towers are to be installed. I also recommend that the state-wide plan be submitted to the General Assembly Committee of cognizance. Finally, I support a moratorium be placed on all dockets and petitions relating to small canister antenna and distributed antenna systems until such time that the state-wide plan and process is approved
Donna Hamzy, Advocacy Manager, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities
Submitted testimony in support of the bill. They believe that is would bill would create a standard and process by which small cell canister antennas and distributed antenna systems are sited in Connecticut.
While they support the bill they did offer the additional suggestion that including municipalities input and participation during the creation of the plan, particularly in the beginning of the process. They also fully support the moratorium provision in the bill.
Betsy Gara, Executive Director, Connecticut Council of Small Towns
Submitted testimony in support of the bill. She states that some wireless providers are asserting that the siting of small cell wireless telecommunications facilities should be determined by PURA without any consideration of or input from the affected municipalities, the Connecticut Sting Council or the public. Ensuring that municipalities have meaningful input in the process of installing these facilities can have unintentional impacts on the community including right-of-way issues, whether the facilities are necessary, and how the installation of these facilities may impact line of site and public safety concerns.
Explicitly providing that all wireless communications facilities including those to be sited on existing utility poles.
Requiring applicants to consult with municipalities prior to approving any application for the installation of wireless communication facilities.
Prohibiting the siting of any communications facility tower or structure in the public right-of-way without the express consent of the municipality in which it is proposed to be sited.
Bruce and Barbara Galaski
Submitted testimony asking that the committee support the bill. They feel that it is critical that towns and residents provide input on where small cell canisters are placed.
Curtis and Pamela Dann, West Haven
Submitted testimony in support of the bill stating that the requirement for input from towns and residents when siting this equipment is absolutely necessary.
Katie DeLuca, Director of Planning and Zoning/Zoning Enforcement Coordinator/Town Planner, Town of Greenwich
They submitted testimony in support of this bill, she believes that it will help to clarify the confusion that exists for siting these systems. A legislative solution is the appropriate long term fix. Also adding stakeholders and municipalities as participants will allow for a better understanding of how these installations will affect the state and its towns. She would like to see a clear definition in the statutes for these installations since this technology is rapidly increasing without interpretation. Regulatory certainty and clarity will allow the telecommunications industry to continue to invest in these networks.
Lisa L. Heavner, First Selectwoman, Town of Simsbury
Submitted testimony in support of this bill. She echoed the remarks of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Stating that by requiring a working group to design the plan. This group would include the CT Siting Counsel, PURA, municipalities and other stakeholders. Allowing the siting process to move forward without the participation of the affected municipalities they would be subject to potential harm without recourse. She also believes that the moratorium portion of this legislation will fairly balance the interests of all parties.
Arthur and Annmarie Kelly, West Haven CT
Submitted testimony in support of this bill, they live in an area where a major wireless carrier has proposed the placement of a small cell unit 8 feet from a residential property. He states that there are very real and proven health risks associated with these units. The lack of regulations gives the communication industry the ability to blanket the state with these units and without regard for health risks, property value and how they are affecting municipalities statewide.
Jack and Alicia Glagowski, West Haven CT
Submitted testimony in support of this bill, as part of a group of concerned citizens in the West Shore of West Haven they have been working to bring attention to the issues of cell towers and their equipment. They understand the need for updated technology but believe that the lack of oversite will have a detrimental effect on people's lives, health and beauty of the towns and villages across Connecticut.
Carol Manning, Old Saybrook, CT
Submitted testimony in support of the bill, stating that they have seen recent research that documents the negative impact of these systems, yet it seems that the agencies promoting the placement and implementation are choosing to ignore this research. The FCC and telecommunications industry are posed to fast track these structures across the state and the Country. Connecticut has an opportunity to implement policies and procedures that enhance the safety of its' residents. Use this time to develop reasonable guidelines that incorporate central oversite, with clear opportunities for local authorities to intervene in contested cases.
Edward M. O'Brien, Mayor, City of West Haven
Submitted testimony stating that this bill as it will help to alleviate the issues that are impacting communities across the state. Having the Connecticut Siting Counsel establish a clear plan and process for siting these antennae and distributes antennae systems in public rights of way. It is also imperative that this legislation includes the input of the municipalities which these projects would affect from the beginning of the planning process.
The FCC estimates that there will be hundreds of thousands of small cell facilities constructed of the next few years. The legislature needs to step in and clarify the standards before any more are constructed.
Mr. Francois and Dr. Shelly Pelletier, Old Saybrook CT
Submitted testimony stating that this bill, they have a pending case with PURA do to the placement of a node 30' feet from their home /office. After expressing their objection and getting no response from PURA they retained an attorney noting multiple inaccuracies in Verizon's application. This cost them over $5,000. This is an unfair burden to place on citizens in the state. Systems will be indefinite its critical to all that there is a biologically safe technology and infrastructure.
Laszio L. Pinter, Deputy Corporate Counsel, City of Danbury
Submitted testimony in support of the bill, the City of Danbury supports the promotion and enactment of this legislation. This bill looks at small cell facilities typically constructed by non-certified commercial telecommunications providers, who are rushing the market before the legislature takes action to impose meaningful regulation. PURA has been given no standards in the General Statutes to apply in reviewing these applications and by contrast the Connecticut Siting Counsel has standards for cell system installations. PURA seeks to approve placements in rights of way without express statutory authority and without clear standards, while the Siting Counsel has carefully drawn standards for the placement of these in non-public rights of way.
Christine Ruman, West Haven, CT
Richard and Donna Slater, West Haven, CT
Robert and Patricia Stevens, West haven, CT
Nhan R. Tran, West Haven, CT
Marilyn Wilkes, West Haven, CT
Janet Zove, West Haven, CT
Submitted testimony in support of the bill, she believes that it is vital for state and local government to be involved in decisions around sting whenever possible. A statewide plan would provide a mechanism for municipal and citizen concerns about health, safety and other potential community impacts to be heard and considered alongside the interests of cell carriers.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Eric Brown, Senior Counsel, Connecticut Business and Industry Association
Testified in opposition to this bill. He believes the current siting process that includes mandatory oversight from PURA, the Siting Counsel or the relevant municipality provides a public process that all concerned have an opportunity to voice their opinion before the final decision. He does not believe that there is a problem that this bill seeks to address, rather its adoption could create significant and unnecessary additional challenges to our state's economic competitiveness.
Cellco Partnership D/B/A Verizon Wireless
Submitted testimony in opposition to this bill. They believe that the bill fails to recognize that not all small cell wireless installations are sited on utility poles. Rather they are also located on private property, for example, on building rooftops, athletic field light poles existing towers billboards, water tanks etc. Jurisdiction depends on the location of such installations.
Further they note that the FCC “shot clock “ ruling establishes specific timelines within which land use decisions on all wireless facilities must be made. In cases where modifications to existing wireless facilities meet certain criteria established by the FCC and constitute “eligible facility requests”, Federal law now mandates approval of those applications. They believe that Connecticut should encourage the strength of the wireless network and the deployment of critical wireless infrastructure.
John Emra, State President –Connecticut, AT&T
Submitted testimony stating that ever increasing customer usage on existing networks today is driving the need for companies including AT&T to deploy small cells in order to provide customers with the connectivity that they demand. They oppose this legislation because Connecticut already has in place existing rules and processes for the deployment of small cells. The Siting Counsel lacks the knowledge, understanding and most importantly access to proprietary data that carriers use in their deployment decisions. Given the dynamic nature of this industry a state central plan would be out of date before it was published. They also feel that a moratorium would cause capitol that was to be spent in Connecticut to be spent elsewhere. In the case of small cells the industry is ready and willing to deploy using its own capitol a moratorium would put that at risk. Because of this they feel the underlying bill is unnecessary.
Timothy O. Wilkerson, Vice President and Policy Counsel, New England Cable and Telecommunications Association
Submitted testimony stating that the cable industry has invested heavily in the broadband and telecommunications network in Connecticut. In the last eight years they have invested over $2 billion. As drafted this bill is a significant departure from the successful centralized rules that have guided their industry and helped spur competing technologies might confuse a thriving network with red tape and regulation at a local level.
Reported by: Mark Severance