Zoning for Wireless Service Facilities
Municipal Implementation Tool #024

Zoning for Wireless Service Facilities

Product No.: MIT024
Date Published: 09/2012

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As multiple providers compete to expand their services and construct new towers, local governments can find themselves caught in contentious disputes between legally-savvy corporations and discontented citizens. Unlike other controversial land uses, however, the placement of wireless services facilities is governed by a body of federal laws, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulings, and judicial cases that can confound uninformed attempts to regulate it through traditional zoning. Fortunately, these rulings have also served to clarify the 1996 Telecommunications Act to the point that municipalities can develop a precise understanding of their rights and limitations for siting wireless towers. This brochure seeks to provide a thorough overview of issues surrounding the zoning of wireless service facilities, including legislative and regulatory background, a list of best practices for municipalities, and a review of cases relevant to communities in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Geographic Area Covered: DVRPC region

Key Words: cell towers, local governments, 1996 Telecommunications Act, wireless, property values, wireless aesthetics, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), attachments, municipal zoning

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The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, and related nondiscrimination mandates in all programs and activities. DVRPC's website, www.dvrpc.org, may be translated into multiple languages. Publications and other public documents can usually be made available in alternative languages and formats, if requested. DVRPC’s public meetings are always held in ADA-accessible facilities, and held in transit-accessible locations whenever possible. Translation, interpretation, or other auxiliary services can be provided to individuals who submit a request at least seven days prior to a public meeting. Translation and interpretation services for DVRPC’s projects, products, and planning processes are available, generally free of charge, by calling (215) 592-1800. All requests will be accommodated to the greatest extent possible.

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