The TFCG consists of representatives from various land owning and land use agencies. The committee reviews the tower applications, considers the recommendation report and other relevant information compiled by the Tower Coordinator and formulates a siting recommendation that goes forward to the proper agency. The participants on the committee include members from land owning agencies: Department of General Services-Office of Real Estate, Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland National Parks and Planning Commission and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission; from land use agencies: Department of Technology Services-Public Safety Radio, Department of Permitting Services, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Cable and Broadband Services.
The committee meetings provide a forum for members to discuss siting issues, review and comment on telecommunications transmission facility policies of the various agencies and facilitate communications between member agencies, government officials and the industry.
Applications for siting of telecommunications facilities are received by the Tower Coordinator and are reviewed to ensure that they are accurate and complete. The Tower Coordinator reviews the application to confirm that it meets current zoning requirements, to conduct an engineering review and to prepare a report for the TFCG to consider at the next meeting.
The Tower Coordinator is responsible for creating and maintaining a database of existing telecommunication facilities in the County that include the carrier name, location, type of structure and property owner. The Coordinator checks applications for siting of new monopoles against the database to determine whether an alternative site exists that could meet the applicant’s needs.
A: Below is an excerpt from the Telecom Act of 1996 (§704(a) National Wireless Telecommunications Siting Policy) which states the extent to which local authorities are prevented from regulating telecommunications facilities:
Section 332(c) (47 U.S.C. 332(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
(7) PRESERVATION OF LOCAL ZONING AUTHORITY-
(A) GENERAL AUTHORITY- Except as provided in this paragraph, nothing in this Act shall limit or affect the authority of a State or local government or instrumentality thereof over decisions regarding the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities.
(i) The regulation of the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities by any State or local government or instrumentality thereof--
(I) shall not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services; and
(II) shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services.
(ii) A State or local government or instrumentality thereof shall act on any request for authorization to place, construct, or modify personal wireless service facilities within a reasonable period of time after the request is duly filed with such government or instrumentality, taking into account the nature and scope of such request.
(iii) Any decision by a State or local government or instrumentality thereof to deny a request to place, construct, or modify personal wireless service facilities shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record.
(iv) No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission's regulations concerning such emissions.
(v) Any person adversely affected by any final action or failure to act by a State or local government or any instrumentality thereof that is inconsistent with this subparagraph may, within 30 days after such action or failure to act, commence an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. The court shall hear and decide such action on an expedited basis. Any person adversely affected by an act or failure to act by a State or local government or any instrumentality thereof that is inconsistent with clause (iv) may petition the Commission for relief.
(C) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this paragraph--
(i) the term `personal wireless services' means commercial mobile services, unlicensed wireless services, and common carrier wireless exchange access services;
(iii) the term `unlicensed wireless service' means the offering of telecommunications services using duly authorized devices which do not require individual licenses, but does not mean the provision of direct-to-home satellite services (as defined in section 303(v)).'.
(ii) the term `personal wireless service facilities' means facilities for the provision of personal wireless services; and
(iii) the term `unlicensed wireless service' means the offering of telecommunications services using duly authorized devices which do not require individual licenses, but does not mean the provision of direct-to-home satellite services (as defined in section 303(v).
A: The TFCG is not the official body to receive public testimony regarding placement of telecommunication facilities in the County. If not otherwise permitted by County zoning regulations, a new telecommunications facility either goes through the Conditional Use process or the Mandatory Referral process. The Conditional Use application process falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH). http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/OZAH/index.html. The Conditional Use process provides a formal advertised public hearing which allows for public testimony concerning the proposed telecommunications facility.
Mandatory Referral applications are handled by Montgomery Planning department. Additional information can be found at http://montgomeryplanning.org/development/mandatory-referrals/ and http://montgomeryplanning.org/document-viewer/#http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/info/mr_standards.pdf
A. For questions about the TFCG or current issues being discussed at TFCG meetings, please call Marjorie Williams at 240-777-3762.