Old code, New tricks: The Challenge of Deploying Small Cells when the Municipal Code is Outdated

By Sharon Gretch, Zoning Manager

‘Change is the heartbeat of growth.’ – Scottie Somers

Outdated wireless code. The bane of jurisdiction staff and telecommunication professionals alike. Old code that may not address new technology, much less consider changes in Federal law.  As my grandmother used to say, “If you don’t like it – change it.” Wise woman.

A key factor in building a better city, a better county, a better community is to have a solid zoning code. We understand and want to be a part of that; working hand-in-hand with the communities in which we do business. Given the speed that wireless technology is morphing, many jurisdictions, though industry savvy, do not have a full understanding of what technology is available and how this technology can be utilized to best integrate into their communities.

There is code out there that hasn’t been changed since 2003 and technology has radically evolved in 13 years. The way we use data/video today was virtually science fiction when a lot of these older codes were adopted. Yet, there are a few municipal codes that are stuck in a time where the Blackberry PDA and even the Motorolla Startac were the hot consumer buy of the day. Why? Time and staff. Jurisdictions do not have the time or the personnel to amend code. They are busy facing the unique challenges of their communities; slaying those home grown dragons one at a time. They don’t have the time to contemplate, research and propose best practices as fast as the cell sites evolve.

Resultantly, we’re left doing the best we can to provide a design that works for our clients and the community under limited scope. The outcome – a monopole in the front yard of a residential district. The code says we can…but should we? Things like that create angry citizens, bad PR for our clients and, worst case; moratoria where progress can come to a screeching halt.

This is where we can facilitate change. We have the ability to provide the education, industry know how and access to our diverse library of wireless codes from across the United States to build a better code.

Taking the time to address code changes can be a benefit to both the community, jurisdiction and client.

  • For our clients? A huge benefit – time to market. Even though the process can initially be time consuming, reduction in confusion, refined process and clear code makes for a much speedier process down the road.
  • For Jurisdictions? Breaking down the old code and creating a code that meets the needs of a growing community; matching the unique community culture with the code

And that’s what this is what Md7 is all about – serving our clients, our neighbors and our communities to the best of our abilities with respect and integrity.

July 28, 2016
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