In November 2014, we discussed the Federal Communications Commission’s adoption of new rules streamlining the local land use and regulatory approvals process. The FCC’s ruling has now been officially published and will soon take effect. The bulk of the new FCC rules regarding Section 6409 will go into effect on April 8th, however, the provisions governing the tolling of the shot clock and the ability to move forward using the “deemed granted” method of approval will have to wait until the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviews and approves, and subsequent FCC notice process is completed. Provisions of the new FCC rules not related to Section 6409 become effective on February 9th. Anyone seeking to obtain local land use and regulatory approvals affected by the new rulemaking should be aware of these effective dates.

A summary of the key 10 takeaways from the FCC rulemaking is below.

To determine whether your project may fall under the streamlined zoning approval process of Section 6409, these 6409 definitions and substantial change analysis chart may help you navigate through the requirements.

TOP TEN REASONS THE NEW FCC WIRELESS RULES MATTER

  1. Section 6409 can apply to a wide range of projects, including antenna modifications, fiber adds, generators adds, collocations on an existing wireless facility, the placement of the first wireless facility on an existing building or other structure – even tower enhancements.
  2. A jurisdiction reviewing a Section 6409 application can only ask for information reasonable designed to establish whether the application qualifies for 6409 treatment.
  3. Section 6409 applications have a new, shorter shot clock – 60 days.
  4. When a jurisdiction fails to meet the 6409 shot clock, the application is deemed approved.
  5. The shot clock begins to run from the submission of an application and the jurisdiction has 30 days to tell you what’s missing from your application and justify why that’s needed.
  6. Upon resubmission, the jurisdiction has 10 days to tell you if you didn’t provide all the previously requested information and it cannot ask for anything new.
  7. The shot clock is not paused by a moratorium on zoning review.
  8. DAS and Small Cell installations may qualify for the protections afforded to macrosites under Sections 332 and 6409.
  9. Qualifying DAS and Small Cell installations are exempt from NEPA and Section 106 assessments.
  10. Qualifying COWs, COLTs, and other temporary tower facilities are exempt from the 30 day ASR public notice requirement.