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County Executive is Requesting Public Input on Draft Zoning Text Amendment

The County Executive is requesting public input on a draft Zoning Text Amendment to revise the County’s zoning code to address deployment of small antennas on streetlights and lower-height buildings.

A community meeting for this input is being held from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Monday, October 23, 2017 at the Stella B Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room Rockville, MD 20850 and will be carried live on County Cable Montgomery, Facebook, and YouTube.

Because wireless technology is evolving, Montgomery County has recently received an unprecedented number of applications to deploy small cell antennas in residential neighborhoods as well as commercial areas around the County. Federal law is clear that Montgomery County cannot pass zoning laws that would have the effect of prohibiting service throughout the County.

Therefore, the proposed ZTA is intended to allow providers to provide service while protecting the character of both our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas by regulating how and where these antennas can be placed, and how they should be screened or camouflaged.

One of the proposed plans calls for 45 of these small cell antennas to be placed in the Waters Landing neighborhood in Germantown.

According to the ZTA Information Page on the County’s website, the purpose of the ZTA is to amend the County’s zoning code to address deployment of small antennas at heights of 19 to 45 feet above ground by:

  • Protecting the community’s interest in managing commercial use of public property, maintaining attractive roads and neighborhoods, and ensuring appropriate public input.

  • Supporting the community’s interest in having access to robust mobile broadband services and the evolving technical needs of the wireless industry.

  • Ensuring the County’s continued compliance with federal law and any FCC rulings.

Under federal law, the County may not have the effect of prohibiting the provision of telecommunications services and the County must act on applications to deploy new antennas within specific time limits. The ZTA is designed to provide reasonable means for providers to deploy antennas without substantially altering the residential character of neighborhoods. The ZTA would:

  • Allow replacement of pre-existing streetlights with new poles, subject to compatibility requirements and most commonly a 5-foot limit on increased height, to allow better service without adding more poles.

  • Allow pole replacements in downtown areas, such as Silver Spring and Bethesda, and on lower height commercial retail buildings, to provide alternatives to more residential deployments.

  • Retain the current prohibition on attaching antennas on detach houses and duplexes, and extend the prohibition to attaching on townhouses as well.

The ZTA, an interactive map, and links to submit public comments can be found at