First installment: Iowa’s impending wireless siting rules

The Iowa Legislature has sent a bill to the Governor that will create a set of uniform rules for local governments as they regulate the placement and alteration of  wireless facilities (cell towers and other types of wireless facilities).  HF655 is meant to work in harmony with previously adopted FCC rules, such as the shot-clock rule (here and here) and the rules implementing the Spectrum Act.   In a nutshell, HF655 presents a list of 13 things that a local government cannot do when presented an application for a wireless facility.  Straight from the bill, the list of 13 things that a local government cannot do:

  1. Require an applicant to submit information about, or evaluate an applicant’s business decisions with respect to, the applicant’s designed service, customer demand for service, or quality of the applicant’s service to or from a particular area or site.
  2. a. Evaluate an application based on the availability of other potential locations for the placement or construction of a tower or transmission equipment. b. Require the applicant to establish other options for collocation instead of the construction of a new tower or modification of an existing tower or existing base station that constitutes a substantial change to an existing tower or existing base station. c. Notwithstanding paragraph “b” , an authority may require an applicant applying for the construction of a new tower to state in its application that it conducted an analysis of available collocation opportunities on existing towers or existing base stations within the same search ring defined by the applicant solely for the purpose of confirming that the applicant undertook such analysis.
  3. Dictate the type of transmission equipment or technology to be used by the applicant or discriminate between different types of infrastructure or technology.
  4. a. Require the removal of existing towers, base stations, or transmission equipment, wherever located, as a condition to approval of an application. b. Notwithstanding paragraph “a” , the authority may adopt reasonable rules regarding removal of abandoned towers or transmission equipment.
  5. Impose environmental testing, sampling, or monitoring requirements, or other compliance measures, for radio frequency emissions from transmission equipment that are categorically excluded under the federal communications commission’s rules for radio frequency emissions pursuant to 47 C.F.R. §1.1307(b)(1). 
  6. Establish or enforce regulations or procedures for radio frequency signal strength or the adequacy of service quality.
  7. Reject an application, in whole or in part, based on perceived or alleged environmental effects of radio frequency emissions, as provided in 47 U.S.C. §332(c)(7)(B)(iv). 
  8. Prohibit the placement of emergency power systems that comply with federal and state environmental requirements. 
  9. Charge an application fee, consulting fee, or other fee associated with the submission, review, processing, or approval of an application that is not required for similar types of commercial development within the authority’s jurisdiction. Fees imposed by an authority or by a third-party entity providing review or technical consultation to the authority shall be based on actual, direct, and reasonable administrative costs incurred for the review, processing, and approval of an application. In no case shall total charges and fees exceed five hundred dollars for an eligible facilities request or three thousand dollars for an application for a new tower, for the initial placement or installation of transmission equipment on a wireless support structure, for a modification of an existing tower or existing base station that constitutes a substantial change to an existing tower or base station, or anyother application to construct or place transmission equipment that does not constitute an eligible facilities request. An authority or any third-party entity shall not include within its charges any travel expenses incurred in the review of an application, and an applicant shall not be required to pay or reimburse an authority for consultant or other third-party fees based on a contingency or result-based arrangement. 
  10. Impose surety requirements, including bonds, escrow deposits, letters of credit, or any other type of financial surety, to ensure that abandoned or unused towers or transmission equipment can be removed unless the authority imposes similar requirements on other applicants for other types of commercial development or land uses. If surety requirements are imposed, the requirements must be competitively neutral, nondiscriminatory, reasonable in amount, and commensurate with the historical record for local facilities and structures that are abandoned. 
  11. Condition the approval of an application on the applicant’s agreement to provide space on or near the tower, base station, or wireless support structure for authority or local governmental or nongovernmental services at less than the market rate for such space or to provide other services via the structure or facilities at less than the market rate for such services. 
  12. Limit the duration of the approval of an application, except that construction of the approved structure or facilities shall be commenced within two years of final approval, including the disposition of any appeals, and diligently pursued to completion. 
  13. Discriminate on the basis of the ownership, including ownership by the authority, of any property, structure, or tower when promulgating rules or procedures for siting wireless facilities or for evaluating applications.

Tomorrow’s post will look at other parts of HF655.

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