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Wireless infrastructure bill continues path through General Assembly
Antenna hidden within glass panel at Market Street Parking Garage, May 29, 2015
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Antenna hidden within glass panel at Market Street Parking Garage
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Sean Tubbs | Monday, February 06, 2017 at 6:55 p.m.

Legislation that would restrict the ability of Virginia localities from regulating equipment to boost wireless communications has passed the state Senate and will be taken up by the House of Delegates.

Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) introduced HB2196 which limits the ability of cities and counties to amend local zoning ordinances to regulate installation of “small-cell facilities” in public right-of-way.

The House bill died Monday when an amended version did not have the support of that full body.  That means delegates will take up the version that passed the full Senate on Feb. 3.

“These are in essence repeater-type boxes to make sure that between the towers data can move smoothly and at a faster rate and in higher volume,” said Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville), author of the identical SB1292, during debate last week on the Senate floor.

McDougle said these repeaters are between one and three feet in size.

“Those are traditionally placed on existing structures which could be an existing telephone pole but it could be a building or some other type of structure,” he added.

An amended version of the Senate bill made it out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Jan. 30 with twelve affirmative votes, no dissentions, and abstentions from Senators Roz Dance (D-Petersburg) and Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth).

The Senate bill was amended before the committee vote.

The Piedmont Environment Council has been following the bill because of its impact on historic resources and conservation districts.

“PEC and other organizations in the conservation community continue to work to have historic and scenic resources addressed in the legislation,” said Dan Holmes, the organization’s policy director. “We want localities to be able to have the same authority they already have.”

McDougle’s bill was debated in the full Senate on Feb. 3

Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) voted against the bill out of a concern his community’s aesthetics would be hurt.

“There’s a big move in the region in northern Virginia that I represent to [place] underground utilities all along U.S. Route 1 to try to improve the way it looks,” Surovell said. “There was a concern expressed to me early on in this process that this bill might allow utilities providers in the future to undo that and start placing lots of repeater towers or little poles back above ground.”

“I don’t think that there’s anything in the language of the bill as it is currently before you that if some line is placed underground that would require it to be then reestablished on a pole,” McDougle said.

Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) was dismayed that localities would have reduced authority without getting much in return.

“We’re telling a for-profit industry we’re going to allow them to supersede local zoning regulations but what are we getting back in return?” Petersen asked. “There’s been a comparison made to water, power and sewer. Well, we require the electric companies to hook up to every user. This is a for-profit business and we’re not requiring anything from them.”

The bill passed on a 21-18 vote.

Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) abstained from the vote due to her work as an attorney representing Verizon.

Local Senators who voted for the bill include Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon) and Steve Newman (R-Forest). Area Senators who voted against the bill were Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) and Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania).

The legislation was reported out of the House Commerce and Labor Committee on Jan. 31 by an 18 to 2 vote. Delegates Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) and Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) voted for the bill in committee.

The House version did not make it past its second reading on Monday.

However, the failure of the House bill means delegates will consider the Senate version.

“Since the Senate version passed on its third reading, it will now cross over to the House of Delegates,” Holmes said.

However, Holmes said language to include protections for historic districts was not included in the Senate bill.

The legislation’s first stop in the House of Delegates will be an appearance before that body’s Commerce and Labor Committee, which meets on Tuesday and Thursdays.


 

Wireless infrastructure bill continues path through General Assembly

Legislation that would restrict the ability of Virginia localities from regulating equipment to boost wireless communications has passed the state Senate and will be taken up by the House of Delegates.

Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) introduced HB2196 which limits the ability of cities and counties to amend local zoning ordinances to regulate installation of “small-cell facilities” in public right-of-way.

The House bill died Monday when an amended version did not have the support of that full body.  That means delegates will take up the version that passed the full Senate on Feb. 3.

“These are in essence repeater-type boxes to make sure that between the towers data can move smoothly and at a faster rate and in higher volume,” said Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville), author of the identical SB1292, during debate last week on the Senate floor.

McDougle said these repeaters are between one and three feet in size.

“Those are traditionally placed on existing structures which could be an existing telephone pole but it could be a building or some other type of structure,” he added.

An amended version of the Senate bill made it out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Jan. 30 with twelve affirmative votes, no dissentions, and abstentions from Senators Roz Dance (D-Petersburg) and Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth).

The Senate bill was amended before the committee vote.

The Piedmont Environment Council has been following the bill because of its impact on historic resources and conservation districts.

“PEC and other organizations in the conservation community continue to work to have historic and scenic resources addressed in the legislation,” said Dan Holmes, the organization’s policy director. “We want localities to be able to have the same authority they already have.”

McDougle’s bill was debated in the full Senate on Feb. 3

Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) voted against the bill out of a concern his community’s aesthetics would be hurt.

“There’s a big move in the region in northern Virginia that I represent to [place] underground utilities all along U.S. Route 1 to try to improve the way it looks,” Surovell said. “There was a concern expressed to me early on in this process that this bill might allow utilities providers in the future to undo that and start placing lots of repeater towers or little poles back above ground.”

“I don’t think that there’s anything in the language of the bill as it is currently before you that if some line is placed underground that would require it to be then reestablished on a pole,” McDougle said.

Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) was dismayed that localities would have reduced authority without getting much in return.

“We’re telling a for-profit industry we’re going to allow them to supersede local zoning regulations but what are we getting back in return?” Petersen asked. “There’s been a comparison made to water, power and sewer. Well, we require the electric companies to hook up to every user. This is a for-profit business and we’re not requiring anything from them.”

The bill passed on a 21-18 vote.

Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) abstained from the vote due to her work as an attorney representing Verizon.

Local Senators who voted for the bill include Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon) and Steve Newman (R-Forest). Area Senators who voted against the bill were Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) and Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania).

The legislation was reported out of the House Commerce and Labor Committee on Jan. 31 by an 18 to 2 vote. Delegates Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) and Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) voted for the bill in committee.

The House version did not make it past its second reading on Monday.

However, the failure of the House bill means delegates will consider the Senate version.

“Since the Senate version passed on its third reading, it will now cross over to the House of Delegates,” Holmes said.

However, Holmes said language to include protections for historic districts was not included in the Senate bill.

The legislation’s first stop in the House of Delegates will be an appearance before that body’s Commerce and Labor Committee, which meets on Tuesday and Thursdays.


 

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