West Haven officials considering overhaul of telecommunications regulations
WEST HAVEN, Jan 18, 2013 (New Haven Register - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
An overhaul of the city's telecommunications regulations could prevent another establishment from becoming the next 278 Main St.
The Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday will consider revamped policies concerning telecommunications antennas and related television and radio equipment that attempt to more clearly define application and approval procedures. The PZC over the past year has been discussing updated regulations in all areas, not just telecommunications.
Though past approvals to erect antennas on top of the Giannotti Apartments building at 278 Main St. led to lawsuits and an outcry from residents, officials say the fiasco is not what caused the proposed policy changes.
"I would say it was not necessarily prompted by it. It was a follow-up to some of the applications that occurred in the past, but I think they wanted to simply update the regulations so they had something that worked for the city of West Haven properly going into the future," said attorney Ira Bloom, who represents the PZC and helped rewrite the guidelines.
If approved, the updated regulations would require a special permit to put up antennas, whereas that requirement is unclear in existing policies, Bloom said. Special permits require commissions to hold public hearings on an issue and also give commissioners more discretion over applications.
The proposed policies also would encourage applicants to find spots for antennas first on city-owned land or buildings, then on areas where existing vegetation, buildings or topography "provide the greatest amount of screening," on new towers in business and industrial districts, and finally in residential areas with certain conditions, the document says.
The potential regulations also discuss antenna height, screening, equipment size and necessary permits, and clarify definitions of antennas and wireless sites, he added. Bloom used regulations of other municipalities as a model.
Clarifying permit requirements may help prevent another building from landing in the middle of a heated debate, as 278 Main St. did, he said.
"That was one of the main points, so that it was clear what had to be done, what issues had to be addressed, and who had to do what," Bloom said.
When asked if the new regulations will affect places that already have antennas, Bloom said he couldn't say if it would.
Planning and Development Commissioner Meredith Allen said the city is being "proactive" in proposing new regulations.
"He (Bloom) was brought on board for the commission to update our telecommunications regulations to protect the city, to protect the commission, and to protect taxpayers from telecommunications groups because they were in desperate need of improvement," Allen said. "And we've gone through many, many drafts over the last year and a half."
Call Susan Misur at 203-789-5742.
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