Fulton fights cell tower laws

The city of Fulton voiced it’s discontent with state bills that limit local control over cable and phone companies Tuesday.

The council unanimously passed a resolution opposing two state bills — and House Bills 331 and 345 — which limit the city’s ability to choose where cell towers are erected within city limits and the city’s ability to set rental rates for telecommunications companies to connect to city utilities.

Earlier that day, Director of Administration Bill Johnson and Utilities Superintendent Darrell Dunlap spoke before the general assembly in Jefferson City on the matter.

HB 331 was signed into law July 2013 and among other matters states that “an authority shall not … Dictate the type of wireless facilities, infrastructure or technology to be used … (or) discriminate or create a preference 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.”

Johnson told the council that this effectively would mean the city would lack the authority to prohibit the construction of a cell tower anywhere in town, so long as the company erecting the tower owned the land.

“Zoning laws exist to give citizens some say in the future of the development of their community,” Johnson said. “In the past we’ve had success having cell companies build towers in Industrial areas, in the back ends of parks, in the back end of ball fields, in less noticeable places — not in a church parking lot downtown. Under this legislation, they could just tell us what they’re going to do.”

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