Chapter 18.53 TELECOMMUNICATION TOWERS, ANTENNAS AND ACCESSORY STRUCTURES

18.53.010 Title.

18.53.020 Definitions.

18.53.030 Council findings and intent of enactment.

18.53.040 General purposes of telecommunication tower chapter.

18.53.050 General requirements for telecommunication towers.

18.53.060 Additional special use permit application requirements.

18.53.070 Use restrictions.

18.53.080 Development standards.

18.53.010 Title. This chapter shall be known as Telecommunication Towers, Antennas and Accessory Structures Ordinance.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.020 Definitions. As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated.

“Antenna” means any device used in communications which transmits and/or receives telecommunications signals as part of a personal wireless services facility. Examples of such devices include, but are not limited to, dish, panel and whip devices, but do not include structures to which they may be attached.

"Co-location" means an installation wherein more than one wireless communications provider mounts equipment and accessories on a single tower or support structure at one site.

"Pre-existing tower" means any tower, antenna or structure for which a permit was properly issued, or in process, prior to the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter.

"Telecommunication tower" means a structure intended to support antennas, waveguide and associated equipment for the transmission of signals for wireless communication such as television, radio, radio telephone, telephone or cellular land mobile communications.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.030 Council findings and intent of enactment.

A. The town council finds that pursuant to the authority contained in Section 45-24-29 of the Zoning Enabling Act of 1991, as amended, that it is necessary to provide for innovative land development practices with respect to the siting and installation of telecommunication towers, antennae and accessory structures; and

B. The town council further finds that the preparation, enactment and implementation of a zoning ordinance relating to telecommunication towers, antennae and accessory structures, is necessary to address the protection of public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Richmond;

C. Therefore, it is the intent of the town council that this chapter provide guidance and direction with respect to matters affecting the siting and installation of telecommunication towers, antennae and accessory structures.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.040 General purposes of telecommunication tower chapter. The general purposes of this chapter are:

A. To manage the total number of towers, and/or antennae, throughout the community;

B. To encourage installation of towers, and/or antennae, in areas where adverse impacts upon the community are minimized;

C. To encourage tower, and/or antennae, configuration which minimizes adverse visual impact on the community;

D. To encourage co-location of tower facilities;

E. To support the objectives of communication providers in delivering telecommunication services to the community quickly, effectively and efficiently.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.050 General requirements for telecommunication towers.

A. Excepting in that zone in which telecommunication towers are permitted, no telecommunication tower shall be constructed unless a special use permit has been issued by the zoning board of review. The extension or modification in the height of a telecommunication tower, the construction of a new facility or replacement of an existing facility, or the placement of additional equipment by a new provider on an existing tower together with its ancillary equipment and facility (i.e., co-location) shall require a new special use permit.

B. In all zones where the installation of antennas is permitted by right or by special exception, such installations shall be limited to public or private utility structures or to church towers, and shall be no more than ten feet higher than the highest point on said public or private utility structures or church tower.

C. Any equipment buildings and structures shall be considered accessory uses to the telecommunication tower and shall meet all the yard setback requirements for the zoning district in which they are located. All telecommunication users shall meet the minimum lot size for the zoning district in which the facility is located.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.060 Additional special use permit application requirements. As part of any special use permit application for a telecommunication tower or antenna an applicant shall submit, at the minimum, the following:

A. A site plan prepared by a Rhode Island registered land surveyor or professional engineer at a scale no smaller than one inch equals forty feet which shows the following:

1. Site boundaries and zoning setback lines;

2. Topography at five-foot contour intervals;

3. Tower or pole location, including guy wires, if any, and tower height;

4. Accessory building, equipment or structures;

5. Fencing and landscaping;

6. Lighting;

7. Areas to be cleared of vegetation and trees;

8. Abutters within two hundred feet;

9. A map showing the applicant’s entire property and adjacent properties and streets, at a convenient scale, including the approximate location and dimensions of all existing and proposed structures, utility lines, wells, septic systems and major natural features on the proposed development site and on adjacent properties and within five hundred feet of the site boundary.

B. In the industrial zoning district, where the installation of a telecommunication tower, antenna and accessory structure are permitted by right, the applicant shall submit a site plan package to the planning board for development plan review, under Chapter 18.54. In addition to the information required in Chapter 18.54, the information required in Section 18.53.080, Development Standards, subsections A through J, shall also be submitted to the planning board for development plan review.

C. A narrative report which shall describe the following relating to the request for the telecommunication tower, antenna and/or related facility installation:

1. The technical, economic and/or other reasons for the telecommunication tower, antenna and related facilities design;

2. The equipment load carrying capacity for type of antenna, receivers/transmitters which are intended to or may be mounted on the telecommunication tower;

3. The basis for the calculation of equipment load carrying capacity;

4. Evidence that the design shows that the selected telecommunication tower is as visually unobtrusive as possible given technical, engineering and other pertinent considerations;

5. Evidence that the height proposed is the minimum height necessary to accommodate the antenna; and

6. Evidence of consideration of alternate sites and co-location on existing towers on which the requirements of the applicant could be met, and if not, the reasons why each co-location site is not adequate for the needs or requirements of the applicant.

D. All special use permit applications for telecommunication towers shall include a certification of structural integrity from a Rhode Island registered professional engineer that the telecommunication tower was designed to withstand all load requirements for structures as set forth in the Rhode Island Building Code (R.I. Gen. Laws 23-27.3-100.0 et seq).

E. The applicant shall submit evidence upon filing that it has contemporaneously notified by certified mail all Federal Communications Commission wireless communication, common carrier and public broadcast licensees operating in the state of Rhode Island of its application for a special use permit.

F. When the applicant is not the owner of the site, the applicant shall also include a copy of the lease or agreement for the use of the site and the written approval of the property owners of a bona fide purchase/sale con-tract for the property on which the site is located.

G. A master siting plan for all telecommunication tower locations within the town shall be submitted with each application delineating all existing towers, service areas and all proposed sites.

H. For a continuous, elapsed period of not less than three weeks and prior to the date of the public hearing, a helium balloon of sufficient size and color visible at a distance of one mile shall be placed at the location of the proposed telecommunication tower and flown at the maximum proposed tower height. After the close of the public hearing the balloon shall be immediately removed. This requirement may be waived by the zoning board of review for placement on existing structures.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.070 Use restrictions. Additional use restrictions shall apply to the issuance of all special use permits for telecommunication towers as follows:

A. The zoning board of review shall give a preference for the use of existing structures, towers, instead of the construction of new telecommunication tower facilities. All reasonable efforts shall be made for co-location on existing structures and towers. The zoning board of review shall, as a condition of approval for the construction and continued use of a new telecommunication tower, require that the applicant, its successors and assigns, not unreasonably delay or refuse to allow the co-location of equipment, antennas or ancillary equipment or structures on the telecommunication tower or on the site by future applicants for a similar special use permit.

B. The zoning board of review shall give a preference to town-owned sites which meet the requirements of the applicant.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

18.53.080 Development standards.

A. The distance between the base of the telecommunication tower and any abutting property lines, measured from the center of the telecommunication tower, shall be a minimum of one foot for each one foot of telecommunication tower height.

B. Where the telecommunication tower site abuts a residential or a historic zoning district, the setback distance between the base of the telecommunication tower and that district line shall be one and one-half feet for each foot of telecommunication tower height. Upon the express agreement in writing of all property owners within a distance equal to the proposed telecommunication tower height, the zoning board of review may modify or waive the setback requirements herein specified.

C. All telecommunication towers and supports therefor shall be clearly marked for the first fifteen feet above grade so as to be visible at all times. All supports shall meet the minimum yard setback requirements for the zoning district in which they are located, but in no case shall such be less than twenty-five feet.

D. All supports and anchors shall have a minimum of a ten-foot horizontal setback from any overhead utility lines.

E. All telecommunications towers and poles shall be enclosed by a fence no less than six feet in height or more than ten feet in height from natural grade. Access shall be through a locked gate. Vegetation shall be planted to screen fences and accessory buildings and/or structures of non-natural materials and colors so that the telecommunication tower base and accessories are suitably marked at the property lines.

F. Telecommunication towers shall not be artificially lighted except as required for public safety purposes by the Federal Aviation Administration or by the zoning board of review.

G. No signs shall be allowed on any telecommunication tower except as required for safety purposes by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission or the zoning board of review.

H. All telecommunication towers, together with any accessories, structures or buildings shall be removed from the site within one year from the date that they cease to function or have become inoperative. The owner shall notify the building inspector of cessation of operation and shall immediately commence the removal of the items which have ceased to function or become inoperative. The zoning board of review shall require the posting of a demolition bond in an amount sufficient to insure the removal of the telecommunication tower.

I. Site location and development shall preserve, as closely as possible, the preexisting character of the abutting lands and surrounding zoning districts. Insofar as possible, all telecommunication towers, equipment structures and facilities shall be integrated through appropriate location and design to blend with the existing character of the site.

J. Existing site vegetation shall be preserved or improved, and disturbance of existing topography shall be minimized unless appropriate site development would result in less visual impact of the sight on the surrounding area.

(Ord. dated 10-7-97 (part))

REFERENCES

R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-24-30(3)(v).

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