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TMCNet:  Defend city zoning rights [St. Joseph News-Press (MO)]

[April 15, 2014]

Defend city zoning rights [St. Joseph News-Press (MO)]

(St. Joseph News-Press (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) We've been down this road before.

Last year a bill passed the Missouri General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon that would have changed how decisions are made about placement of cell phone towers. A circuit judge later found the utility-friendly measure to be unconstitutional because it dealt with more than one subject - towers, railway rights-of-way and more.


Now, the Missouri Municipal League warns the same anti-local control provisions are back, but this time packaged in four separate bills.

We don't fault telecommunications businesses for pursuing legislation advantageous to them. But we do ask lawmakers to remember the pivotal role they can play in preserving local control and citizens' property values.

As we noted last spring, currently cities like St. Joseph have the power of local review. They can determine through planning and zoning regulations that large cell towers, which require guy wires, must be located on the outer boundaries of the community.

These cities also have leverage in examining the specific location of towers. They can require companies to cooperate and share a pole. This, of course, limits the clutter and intrusions that come from multiple poles and towers.

The telecommunications companies are said to be seeking more freedom to make decisions that advance their businesses, and they want less to do with local zoning ordinances. There is the suggestion that planning and zoning boards can slow down or otherwise impede the rollout of technological advances.

Our lawmakers should ask to see detailed evidence of these problems before making any decision that would limit local control.

They also should study the success the Kansas City metro area has had in rolling out the much-touted Google fiber project. By our understanding, this project was accomplished within the boundaries of planning and zoning rules.

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