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FCC wants to control cell towers

Sunday, January 19, 2014 - Updated: 7:56 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

ALBANY -- Buried deep in an unrelated piece of federal legislation known as the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 is a proposed rule that would expand the Federal Communications Commission's authority over communications towers.

It would require state and local governments to step aside if a proposed expansion of an existing tower meets certain criteria, regardless of location or state and local laws.

Local planning boards and state regulators would not have any input on decisions. They would not be allowed to consider alternatives or deny requests to increase the height and visibility of any existing cell tower.

TAKING ACTION

Ten New York environmental and historic preservation organizations took action Monday, Jan. 13, sending a letter urging the FCC not to take away the rights of state and local governments to regulate the towers, especially in scenic and historically significant areas.

They asked the FCC to reject the notion that expansions of 10 percent or more in the height or width of cell towers would have no impact on the environment or historic preservation.

"The Adirondack Park depends on its wilderness character to attract millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands of seasonal residents each year," Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway said. "Communications continue to improve in the park, and the Adirondack Park Agency has done an outstanding job of ensuring that new towers fit into the surrounding landscape."

IT IS WORKING

"For both cell towers and broadband installations, private companies report they have faced no unreasonable regulatory delays," Janeway says. "That is success. The FCC's new rule threatens to upset that success."

The Adirondack Park Agency established standards in 2002 to allow rapid communications expansions while avoiding significant impacts on environmental, scenic or historic resources.

In addition to the Adirondack Council, the letter was also signed by the Adirondack Mountain Club, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy, NY Public Interest Research Group, Parks & Trails New York, the Preservation League of New York, Protect the Adirondacks, Scenic Hudson and the Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter.

The FCC is accepting comments through Feb. 3. Go on line to apps.fcc.gov/ecfs and do a search for Docket No. 13-238.

     

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