Cell phone tower pre-emption passes House

Posted on May 4, 2012 by Dene Westbrook

Yesterday afternoon the House passed SB 1064, a bill pre-empting local cell tower colocation approval by a vote of 104-5.

The bill provides that a colocation does not need special land use approval if it the existing structure is in compliance with local zoning and the proposed colocation does not increase tower height by 10 percent or 20 feet, whichever is greater. The colocation also must not increase the width more than necessary to permit colocation nor increase the existing compound by more than 2,500 square feet.

If the proposed colocation does not meet the last two standards, it will be subject tospecial land use approval by the local unit. The local unit has 14 business days to make sure an application is administratively complete. The local unit then has 60 days to approve or deny the application or it is deemed approved.

If the proposed colocation does not meet any of the standards the local unit has 90 days to approve or deny the application. The local unit may charge actual costs or $1,000, whichever is greater.

The federal government proposed a shot clock for cell tower colocation in 2009, and it allows 90 days for local approval for an existing tower and 150 days for a new tower. There are questions being raised about how whether the new language in SB 1064 is pre-empted by federal law.

The legislation now heads to the Governor for his signature.

Samantha Harkins works for the Michigan Municipal League handling municipal services and energy and technology issues.  She can be reached at 517-908-0306 or email at [email protected]

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