Third and final installment: Iowa’s impending wireless facilities siting legislation

One of the goals of HF655 was to fill in “gaps” in the FCC rules when it comes to local regulation of the placement of new towers.  The first two posts on this blog essentially addressed those circumstances.  Another goal of the bill was to create a set of rules at the state level (which is then applied locally) that is identical to the FCC rules at the federal level.  Several sections of HF655 are thus simply a state codification of the shot clock rules (2009 FCC ruling), and a state codification of the rules from the Spectrum Act (2014 FCC ruling) that streamline approval of activities that do not constitute a “substantial change.”  The bill therefore

  • Sets forth definitions for “base station,” “collocation,” “eligible facilities request,” existing tower,” “substantial change,” “tower,” “transmission equipment,” “wireless support structure” that mirror those in the prior two FCC rulings.
  • Requires local governments to act on new tower applications within 150 days of receiving a complete application for construction, consistent with the 2009 FCC ruling.
  • Requires local governments to act within 90 days of receiving a complete application for “initial placement or installation of transmission equipment on wireless support structures, a modification of an existing tower or existing base station that constitutes a substantial change, or a request for construction or placement of transmission equipment that does not constitute an eligible facilities request,” consistent with both the 2009 and 2014 FCC rulings.

All records, documents, and electronic data submitted to the local government as part of the application process are treated as information subject to the Open Records Act (Iowa Code Chapter 22).  Presumably this provision was acceptable to the industry because the bill put significant limitations on the types of information that the local government could request from the applicant in the first place.

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