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Cell tower ordinance under consideration

Posted: November 15, 2013 - 1:09am

City and Borough of Juneau officials are working on developing a master plan and correlated ordinance for cell phone towers in the region.

Both items were referenced at a CBJ Planning Commission meeting this week, but neither is expected to be presented to the Assembly until March of next year.

“This is our vision we’re talking to the Planning Commission and Assembly about, but it doesn’t mean this is the direction the community is going,” said Hal Hart, the city’s director of community development.

The Wireless Communications Facilities Master Plan gives a picture of cell phone coverage in Juneau to identify well- and poorly-covered regions to serve as a reference during future permitting decisions, and it will include general direction on the aesthetics and construction of towers, along with the possibility of requiring multiple providers to share a tower.

“The plan is a higher question of: ‘What do we want to see in the community?’” said Travis Goddard, the department of community development’s planning manager. “How you define ‘good’ is where the ordinance comes in.”

One of the things that will be considered and discussed as the master plan and ordinance are developed is the height requirements for towers, which could end up being dependent on where the tower is located — for example, a tower on the mountainside may have different restrictions than one closer to developed areas.

Construction materials, color and the planning of the base of the towers are also items under consideration for the ordinance, and the city is debating if requiring providers to collocate their equipment on shared towers is the direction it wants to go, Hart said.

As the plan and ordinance move through the development process there will be ample opportunities for the public to provide input, he added.

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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