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The Lake News Online
  • Another town expresses concern over Miller's cell tower bill

  • The Village of Sunrise Beach has joined the City of Osage Beach in protesting cellular tower legislation sponsored by lake area State Rep. Rocky Miller in the 2013 regular session.
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  • The Village of Sunrise Beach has joined the City of Osage Beach in protesting cellular tower legislation sponsored by lake area State Rep. Rocky Miller in the 2013 regular session.
    At its Dec. 9 meeting, the Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees approved sending a letter to Miller expressing their opposition to the Uniform Wireless Communications Infrastructure Deployment Act or similar legislation.
    In light of the issue, the Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen also issued a 60-day moratorium Nov. 18 on the issuance of permits for the construction, placement or modification of cell towers within city limits while it develops regulations on these types of structures.
    While the Cole County District Court has since struck down the act within House Bill 331/345 as unconstitutional with an injunction against its enaction, the ruling is being appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court and similar legislation that is likely to be introduced to the state legislature in January.
    At its Dec. 11 meeting, the Laurie Board of Aldermen heard from P&Z Chair Rick Purdon on the issue but took no action to wait and see if the legislation was resurrected in the 2014 legislative session.
    Local officials are concerned that the legislation would allow cell phone companies to locate towers within their municipalities with little to no regulation by wresting controls from the local governing entities with planning and zoning.
    In a discussion with Osage Beach aldermen recently, Miller said that the intent of his original, two-page bill was to help ensure that all areas of the state would have access to fiber optics and Internet services with municipal planning and zoning laws still having authority to regulate wireless towers. Over the course of the session, however, the legislation got expanded beyond Miller's stated original intent.
    Under the act, the blocked statute, Section 67.5094, attempted to stop several possible requirements of cell tower applicants by municipal authorities in order to "ensure uniformity across the state". There are 18 items specified that the permitting authority is not allowed to require of the applicant.
    For example, an authority would not be allowed to "... evaluate an application based on the availability of other potential locations for the placement of wireless support structures or wireless facilities, including without limitation the option to collocate instead of construct a new wireless support structure or for substantial modifications of a support structure" or "... dictate the type of wireless facilities, infrastructure or technology to be used by the applicant, including, but not limited to, requiring an applicant to construct a distributed antenna system in lieu of constructing a new wireless support structure."
    Then under 67.5096 and 67.5098, the act outlines what applicants for new towers and for modifications of existing towers must submit to local authorities to receive a permit.
    Page 2 of 2 - There are just two items: First, submitting an application with a copy of the lease or a property owner's agreement to allow the tower on the property and, second, compliance with applicable local ordinances concerning land use and the appropriate permitting processes.
    A letter from the City of Osage Beach to Miller - developed with legal counsel from city attorney Ed Rucker - on the issue stated that the act guts the provision of the city's code related to telecommunications facilities.
    While 67.5096 makes it seem as if the statute is preserving P&Z authority, it actually eliminates a city's authority to enforce ordinances related to the issues under 67.5096, the letter states.
    The city asks that 67.5096.1 and 67.5908.1 be rewritten to exempt cities such as Osage Beach by eliminating language connecting P&Z authority to the act and adding the condition that nothing in 67.5904 would apply to a municipality administering regulation over wireless telecommunication facilities through a special use permit or conditional use permit process.
    To preserve the character of its community, the letter further states that the city needs the ability to regulate prioritization of cell tower locations, proof of need, ensurance of public safety and recovery of all reasonable costs associated with expert third party review of the application.
    Regulations on these issues that are currently in place would be nullified by 67.5904, according to the letter.

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