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Margate to nix public hearings for collocations of wireless providers by:

As part of streamlining wireless communications review and placement in the City, the Margate Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) last week approved eliminating consulting fees for cell tower approval and collacation of wireless communications providers in the City. (Amended 6-13-2013)

The ordinance proposed to P&Z makes it faster and easier for wireless communications providers* to co-locate with others on existing cell towers in the city. It also keeps Margate in line with state statute F.S. § 365.172(12) that essentially prohibits municipalities from interfering with the wellbeing of Emergency 911 Communications in the state.

The ordinance includes a 45-day rapid review for providers new to the City and eliminates 3rd party consulting fees, which in the past has amounted to $2,500 per review, along with fees associated with contracting a consultant. Moreover, the proposed ordinance shifts oversight from the City’s Department of Environmental Engineering Services to the Department of Economic Development.

Vice Chair for P&Z, Todd Angier, expressed concern that changes in oversight would compromise the engineering aspects of review. Associate Planner for Margate, Andrew Pinney, assured him it wouldn’t. The new process still requires review (a written statement) by a registered professional engineer licensed by the State of Florida.

To answer questions posed by board members Catherine Yardley and Anthony Caggiano - regarding the lack of public hearing and how doing so benefits residents - Pinney said the proposed ordinance doesn’t eliminate public hearings for new cell towers, only for wireless providers applying for space on existing cell towers and that comply with streamlined process standards.

Additionally, the proposed ordinance requires applicants to submit plans digitally, while at the same time reducing the number of print copies for review required in the past.

P&Z recommended that commissioners move the proposed ordinance forward at their next meeting.

*Cell towers spread across Margate generated $2.6 million in communications taxes for the City last year. Some cell tower leases have been extended 30 years out and more.

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