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County to Hold Public Hearing on Small Cell Antennas in Residential Areas

The Montgomery County Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed Zoning Text Amendment which would allow for telecommunications towers in residential areas on Sept. 25 at 7:30 pm in the third-floor hearing room of the Council Office Building.

There are over 45 of these small cell antennas proposed in the Germantown area, many in the Waters Landing neighborhood.

Montgomery County has recently received a high 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.

Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 18-11 addresses the deployment of 5G small cell antennas in residential areas of the County. The bill was introduced on July 27, 2018 and would allow limited use of the antennas in residential areas and some conditional use in residential areas. As summary of the changes which the bill provides follows:

Telecommunications towers would be allowed in limited use in residential areas:

-To replace poles taller than 22 feet and at least 30 feet from houses

- The height of a replacement structure would be limited to 6 additional feet for streetlights and 10 additional feet for utility poles

- Additional minimal height increased would be allowed for utility poles to comply with safety code