The City of Calistoga has approved a wireless telecommunication ordinance that will provide the city with more control over future wireless facility applications.
The ordinance has been in the works for more than a year, and was unanimously approved by the planning commission in April.
The approval comes as the City prepares to comply with frequently evolving federal and state regulations for use permits from telecommunications companies. In the absence of local regulations, the city would lose a large amount of discretion and local control with regard to new wireless facilities, said Planning and Building Director Zac Tusinger.
The ordinance will allow the City to regulate permit requirements, indicate where wireless companies can place facilities, and exercise discretion over design features including height limits, concealment of towers and equipment, and tower clusters.
The council voted 3-1 in favor of the ordinance, with Mayor Chris Canning recusing himself as he is also CEO of Illumination Technologies California, a telecommunications company.
Councilmember Don Williams cast his second dissenting vote against the ordinance. At the council’s meeting in May, he said he was not prepared to approve the ordinance without more education and public input.
Prior to the meeting, staff responded to questions and concerns raised by the public including health and safety issues, and the permit review process. The staff report states that providers must comply with FCC electromagnetic frequency standards. Federal law preempts local agencies from regulating radio frequency or electromagnetic waves for facilities that comply with FCC regulations. However, the City can require proof that FCC standards are met. Most of the policy examples that staff has reviewed require proof that the wireless carriers comply with the FCC EMF parameters, the report said.
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