City of Howard Lake Telecommunications Ordinance



STATE OF Minnesota







Section A. Purpose. To accommodate the communication needs of residents and businesses while protecting the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community, the City finds that these regulations are necessary in order to:

(1) facilitate the provision of wireless telecommunication services to the residents and businesses of the City;

(2) minimize adverse visual effects of towers through careful design and siting standards;

(3) avoid potential damage to adjacent properties from tower failure through structural standards and setback requirements; and

(4) maximize the use of existing and approved towers and buildings to accommodate new wireless telecommunication antennas in order to reduce the number of towers needed to serve the community.

Section B. Definitions:

Antenna. Any structure or device used for the purpose of collecting or transmitting electromagnetic waves, including but not limited to directional antennas, such as panels, microwave dishes, and omni-directional antennas, such as whip antennas.

Commercial Wireless Telecommunication Services. Licensed commercial wireless communication services including cellular, personal communication services (PCS), specialized mobilized radio (SMR), enhanced specialized mobilized radio (ESMR), paging, and similar services that are marketed to the general public.

Essential Services. Overhead or underground electrical, gas, steam, or water transmission or distribution systems and structures or collection, communication, supply, or disposal systems and structures used by public utilities or governmental departments or commissions or as are required for the protection of the public health, safety, or general welfare, including towers,poles, wires, mains, drains, sewers, pipes, conduits, cables, fire alarm boxes, police call boxes and accessories in connection therewith but not including buildings. For the purpose of this ordinance, commercial telecommunication service facilities shall not be considered public utility uses, and are defined separately.

Tower. Any ground or mounted pole, spire, structure, or combination thereof taller than fifteen (15') feet, including supporting lines, cables, wires, braces, and masts, intended primarily for the purpose of mounting an antenna, meteorological device, or similar apparatus above grade.

Tower, Multi-User. A tower to which is attached the antennas of more than one commercial wireless telecommunication service provider or governmental entity.

Tower, Single-User. A tower to which is attached only the antennas of a single user, although the tower may be designed to accommodate the antennas of multiple users as required in this ordinance.

Section C. Required Permits. Prior to any construction activities, the following permits must be secured from the City:

(1) a building permit, as required by Article 11 of the Howard Lake Zoning Ordinance; and

(2) a conditional use permit, as required by this ordinance, with attachments, as required by this ordinance, as required by the Howard Lake Zoning ordinance, Article 15, and as required by the conditional use permit application.

Section D. Zoning District Use. Telecommunication towers and antennae shall only be allowed in the Highway Business and City Center and Light Industrial Zoning Districts in the City upon the approval of the two permits required above. A building permit and a conditional use permit are both required in said Highway Business and City Center and Light Industrial Districts.

Section E. Area, Setback and Height Restrictions.

(1) Lot Area. The minimum lot area requirements are determined by the zoning district in which the tower development site is located and as determined by any additional area needed to meet all setback requirements of this ordinance.

(2) Tower Setbacks. The minimum setback from all property lines and public rights of way for telecommunications towers, exclusive of attached antennae, shall be equal to its height.

(3) Height Restrictions. A Maximum height for telecommunications towers is one hundred fifty (150') feet, excluding attached antennae.

Section F. Co-Location Requirements.

(1) A proposal for a new commercial wireless telecommunication service tower shall not be approved unless it can be documented by the applicant, as documented by a qualified and licensed engineer, that the telecommunication equipment planned for the proposed tower cannot be accommodated on a existing or approved tower, commercial building or public structure within one (1) mile radius of the proposed tower site due to one or more of the following reasons:

(a) The planned equipment would exceed the structural capacity of the existing or approved tower or commercial building, and the existing or approved tower cannot be reinforced, modified, or replaced to accommodate planned or equivalent equipment at a reasonable cost.

(b) The planned equipment would cause interference materially impacting the usability of other existing or planned equipment at the tower or building and interference cannot be prevented at a reasonable cost.

(c) Existing or approved towers and buildings within the search radius (1 mile) cannot accommodate the planned equipment at a height necessary to reasonably function.

(d) The applicant must demonstrate that a good faith effort was made to co-locate equipment on existing towers or structures within the one (1) mile radius, but that an agreement could not be reached.

(2) Predominantly economic reasons for not pursuing collocation sites shall not be accepted and would generally be grounds for rejection of the application and/or denial of the conditional use permit.

(3) Any proposed commercial wireless telecommunication service tower shall be designed to accommodate both the applicant's antennae and comparable antennae for at least two (2) additional users. Towers must be designed to allow for future rearrangement of antennae upon the tower and to accept antennae mounted at varying heights.

Section G. Tower Design Requirements. Proposed or modified towers and antennae shall meet the following design requirements:

(1) Towers and antennae shall be designed to blend into the surrounding environment through the use of color and camouflaging architectural treatment, except in instances where the color is dictated by federal or state authorities.

(2) Commercial wireless telecommunication service towers shall be of a monopole design unless the City Council determines that an alternative design would better blend in to the surrounding environment. Towers must be self-supporting without the use of wires, cables, beams, or other means.

Section H. Construction Requirements.

(1) All antennae, towers, and accessory structures shall comply with all applicable provisions of this ordinance.

(2) Towers shall be certified by a qualified and licensed professional engineer to conform to the latest structural standards and wind loading requirements of the Uniform Building Code and Electronics Industry Association.

(3) No part of any antenna or tower nor any lines, cable, equipment, wires, or braces in connection with either shall at any time extend across or over any part of the right-of-way, public street, highway, sidewalk, or property line.

(4) Towers and associated antennae shall be designed to conform with accepted electrical engineering methods and practices and to comply with the provisions of the National Electrical Code.

(5) All signal and remote control conductors of low energy extending substantially horizontally above the ground between a tower or antenna and a structure, or between towers, shall be at least eight (8') feet above the ground at all points, unless buried underground.

(6) Every tower affixed to the ground shall be protected by a security fence to discourage climbing of the tower by unauthorized persons.

(7) Tower locations should provide the maximum amount of screening possible for off-site views of the facility. Existing on-site vegetation shall be preserved to the maximum extent practicable. The area around the base of the tower and any accessory structures shall be landscaped and/or screened. See Section K of this ordinance.

Section I. Lights and Other Attachments.

(1) No antenna or tower shall have affixed or attached to it in any way, except during time of repair or installation, any lights, reflectors, flashers, or other illuminating device, except as required by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), nor shall any tower have constructed on, or attached to, in any way, any platform, catwalk, crow's nest, or like structure, except during periods of construction or repair.

(2) The use of any portion of a tower for signs other than warning or equipment information signs is prohibited.

Section J. Accessory Utility Buildings. All utility buildings and structures accessory to a tower shall be architecturally designed to blend in with the surrounding environment and shall meet the minimum setback requirements of the zoning district in which the tower site is located. Ground mounted equipment shall be screened from view by suitable vegetation, except where a design of non-vegetative screening better reflects and complements the architectural character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Section K. Screening Standards.

(1) When used, walls or fences must provide for full visual screening of accessory buildings or storage areas, as viewed from residential areas and state and county roads;

(2) The materials used for constructing the wall or fence shall be specified in the site plan and shall be subject to approval by the Planning Commission and City Council;

(3) Berms, if used, shall be constructed with a slope not to exceed 3:1 and shall be covered with sod or other landscape material sufficient to prevent erosion of the berm.

(4) Trees, hedges or other vegetative materials, when used, must provide at least 75 percent (75%) screening capacity throughout the year. Such screening must also conform to all vegetative setback requirements of the Howard Lake Zoning Ordinance.

Section L. Maintenance Requirements.

(1) The yard area in front of fences and walls shall be trimmed and maintained in a neat and attractive manner.

(2) Repairs to damaged areas of walls or fences shall be made within thirty (30) days of sustaining said damage.

(3) Areas left in a natural state and vegetative screening areas shall be properly maintained in a sightly and well kept condition.

(4) Diseased, dying, or dead vegetative screening elements shall be removed and then replaced, at a minimum, with healthy plants of the same size required when first planted.

Section M. Abandoned or Unused Towers or Portions of Towers.

(1) All abandoned or unused towers and associated facilities shall be removed within six (6) months of the cessation of operations at the site unless a time extension is approved by the City Council. A copy of the relevant portions of a signed lease which requires the applicant to remove the tower and any associated facilities upon the cessation of their operations shall be submitted at the time of application. In the event that a tower is not removed within six (6) months of cessation of operations at a site, the tower and associated facilities may be removed by the City and the cost of removal assessed against the property.

(2) Unused portions of towers above manufactured connection shall be removed within six (6) months of the time of antenna relocations. The replacement of portions of a tower previously removed requires the issuance of a new building/conditional use permit.

Section N. Antennae Mounted On Roofs. Walls. and Existing Towers. The placement of wireless telecommunication antennae on roofs, walls and existing towers may be approved by the City Council, provided the antennae meet the requirements of this ordinance, after submittal of:

(1) a site and building plan;

(2) A report prepared by a qualified and licensed professional engineer indicting the existing structure or tower's suitability to accept the antenna, and the proposed method of affixing the antenna to the structure. A complete detailing of all fixtures and couplings needed and the precise point of attachment shall be indicated.

Section 0. Additional Submittal Requirements.

In addition to the information required elsewhere in this ordinance, applications for towers shall include the following supplemental information:

(1) Documentation of the area to be served by the tower including a narrative describing why the site chosen is the most appropriate site for the tower location, the results of any environmental review conducted on the chosen site, and a discussion of why existing structures within the search area would not be suitable as locations or co-locations for the purpose of antennae.

(2) A copy of an agreement between the applicant and property owner that the site and tower will be designed for not less than three (3) users. The agreement shall also include a statement that any unused or obsolete tower shall be removed by the property owner or applicant. This agreement shall be signed by the applicant and property owner and shall be attached to and become part of the permit .

(3) A report from a qualified and licensed professional engineer which:

(a) describes the tower height and design including a cross section and elevation;

(b) documents the height above grade for all potential mounting positions for co-locating antennae and the minimum separation distances between antennae.

(c) documents what steps the applicant will take to avoid interference with established public safety telecommunications:

(d) includes an engineer's stamp and registration number; and

(e) includes other information necessary to evaluate the request.

(4) Before the issuance of a building permit, the following supplemental information shall be submitted:

(a) proof that the proposed tower complies with regulations administered by the FAA; and

(b) a report from a qualified and licensed professional engineer which demonstrates the tower's compliance with the aforementioned structural and electrical standards.

(5) Additional liability insurance equivalent to the minimum city requirements and proof of insurance be provided with all other information contained with the submittal materials.

Section P. Existing Antennas and Towers. Antennas and towers in existence as of April 6, 1999, that do not conform to or comply with this ordinance are subject to the following provisions:

(1) Towers and antennas may continue in use for the purpose now used and as now existing but may not be replaced or materially altered without complying in all respects with this ordinance.

(2) If such towers or antennas are hereafter damaged or destroyed due to any reason or cause whatsoever, the tower or antenna may be repaired and restored to its former use, location, and physical dimensions upon obtaining a building permit therefore, but without otherwise complying with this ordinance, provided, however, that if the cost of repairing the tower to the former use, physical dimensions, and location would exceed the cost of a new tower of like kind and quality, then the tower may not be repaired or restored except in full compliance with this ordinance.

Section Q. Penalties. Any person, corporation, or other entity that constructs, erects, places, reconstructs, enlarges, expands or repairs a tower or antenna in violation of this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to any additional legal or equitable remedies available to the City. See Article 16 of the Howard Lake Zoning ordinance.

Section R. Effective Date. This ordinance shall take effect from and after its passage and publication.

Passed and adopted this 6th day of April, 1999.

Gerald R. Smith , Mayor

ATTEST: Gene Gilbert City Clerk

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