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City Planning Commission Discusses 5G Infrastructure

A 4G cell phone antenna located along Prendergast Avenue in the city of Jamestown. City officials are discussing an ordinance for the future installation of 5G cell phone antennas. P-J file photo by Dennis Phillips

No formal ordinance on 5G, or small cell technology, was approved, but the Jamestown Planning Commission had a discussion on the future of telecommunications infrastructure.

The commission hosted an online meeting Tuesday with Chip Lawrence, Verizon government affairs unit representative, and Yenal Kucuker, Verizon engineer, on small cell infrastructure.

The proposed city ordinance will allow telecommunication providers to place small cell infrastructure equipment in the public right-of-way.

The proposed city ordinance creates a new small cell facility permit and establishes design requirements, thereby enabling the deployment of telecommunications facilities within the right-of-way while protecting the public health, safety and welfare. The ordinance will also enable the city to manage the right-of-way and to ensure that the public’s use is not obstructed by the placement of wireless telecommunications facilities.

Because the proposed city ordinance, with proposed changes from Verizon, was issued to city officials just prior to the meeting, the commission didn’t vote on the ordinance.

Greg Rabb, commission chairman, said that he did have some issues with the ordinance because it provides no guidance to the commission on approving future proposed small cell infrastructure plans. He said he doesn’t want to discourage the new technology in the city, but there needs to be guidance.

“When we have to make a decision, we need something to guide us,” he said.

Lawrence said Verizon officials have tried to have statewide legislation passed on small cell infrastructure, but he said so far there has been no luck. He said 25 states nationwide have statewide legislation. Rabb said he too is disappointed there is no statewide legislation to guide local municipalities and asked Lawrence why the state Legislature is against the proposal.

Lawrence said in 2018 and 2020 there was a statewide small cell infrastructure legislation in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget. However, he said the legislation wasn’t approved by both the state Senate and the Assembly. He was told that local government officials are worried about not being able to have the authority on the jurisdiction on the new technology.

“Local officials are fearful of losing control,” he said.

The commission is slated to continue discussing the proposed ordinance at its next meeting Tuesday, Dec. 15.

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