On Monday, the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee amended and favorably reported A-4376, a bill that would further weaken already sparse local oversight of the collocation of wireless equipment in the local right of way.
The League opposed A-4376 as introduced because of concerns related to the shortened timeframe that the bill suggests for municipalities’ review of applications for the collocation of wireless facilities, along with provisions that would have these applications deemed approved should the municipalities be unable to meet this shortened review period.
Committee amendments to A-4376 approved on Monday introduced even more concerns, which only strengthens the League’s opposition. Committee amendments would allow the maximum permitted height and width of wireless telecommunication support structures to be expanded without appropriate review and only requiring a zoning permit. The bill would also override certain conditions on variance relief issued when the structure was first developed, overriding important limits set by approving authorities.
A-4376 also seeks to expand the definition of collocate to include the removal, replacement, or modification of any wireless communications equipment on a wireless communications support structure. This revision sets no limitation on the scope or size of the replacement equipment, thus allowing an opportunity for wireless providers to replace smaller equipment with much larger pieces without the appropriate oversight from the local approving authority.
While the League supports the equitable expansion of broadband internet services, we remain mindful that local officials are, rightfully, the guardians of the public rights of way and as such have a duty to ensure this public asset is utilized in a manner that protects the health, safety, and welfare of our communities. As such, the League must respectfully oppose legislative efforts such as A-4376 that would undermine local officials’ ability to manage the public rights of way.
We urge our members to reach out to their legislative representatives and express their concerns with this measure.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x137.