[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Runnemede 4-1-2008 by Ord. No. 08-06. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Zoning — See Ch. 395.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish provisions regulating the number, location, design, and construction of local communications facilities, including towers, antennas, equipment sheds, and appurtenances, in order to accommodate the personal and commercial needs of the citizenry while protecting the health, safety, vitality, and general welfare of the community and its environment. The goals of this chapter are:
To provide for adequate wireless communications throughout the entire municipality while minimizing the total number of communications towers;
To minimize the impact of local communications facilities, particularly towers, on areas of scenic and cultural significance to the municipality and the region;
To encourage the location of such towers as are necessary in nonresidential and nonrecreational areas;
To require the use of existing towers and other structures as support platforms for local communications facilities to the extent consistent with the purpose and the other goals of this chapter;
To require the co-location of local communications facilities of competing providers in order to reduce the number of required towers;
To ensure that such towers are sited, constructed, and maintained in a manner which poses the fewest hazards to the general public as possible;
To provide for the timely removal of local communications facilities and the restoration of the sites they occupied once they are permanently withdrawn from service.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The surface from which wireless radio signals are sent and received by a local communications facility.
- The use of a single tower on the ground by more than one provider and/or the installation of several local communications facilities on an existing building or structure by more than one provider.
- EQUIPMENT SHED/SHELTER
- An enclosed structure, cabinet, shed, or box at the base of the local communications facility within which are housed batteries and electrical equipment.
- LATTICE TOWER
- A freestanding tower with multiple legs and cross-bracing of structural steel.
- LOCAL COMMUNICATIONS FACILITY
- An antenna and any support structure, together with any accessory facilities, which is intended to serve a limited, localized audience through point to point communication, including, but not limited to, cellular telephone service, personal communications systems, paging systems and dispatch communications. It does not include radio or television broadcasting facilities or microwave transmitters.
- A type of freestanding tower with a single shaft of wood, steel, or concrete and a platform (or racks) for antennas arrayed at the top.
- A company that provides wireless services via a local communications facility. A provider may also be known as a "carrier."
All new wireless local communications facilities, be they affixed to freestanding towers or mounted on existing structures, and any structures, equipment, or features accessory to the operation of said facilities, shall be subject to the provisions contained herein.
Existing local communications facilities shall not be required to conform to the provisions contained herein until such time as they are to be altered for installation of additional facilities.
Additions to existing local communications facilities shall be permitted only by use variance having been granted by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of the Borough of Runnemede and after issuance of a special permit allowing such additional facilities on the existing structure.
Upon approval by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment, the construction and operation of local communications facilities shall be permitted as a conditional use in certain parts of the municipality subject to the provisions and limitations contained herein.
The municipality may seek, at the applicant's expense, independent expert advice on the specific locational need for, design, construction, and operation of local communications facilities to aid in the evaluation of applications for such facilities.
The applicant for a local communications facility which involves construction of a freestanding tower more than 100 feet in height shall make space available on the tower for municipal communications needs to the municipality, if technical operating requirements allow. The municipality shall use such space solely for installation of communications devices for fire, police, or emergency medical services.
The total number of local communications facilities in the municipality shall be the minimum necessary to provide adequate service. As such, no application for construction of a local communications facility shall be approved until the applicant has demonstrated that there is a need for the facility and that there is no existing, suitable facility within the service area which could be utilized. Citation in a comprehensive plan approved by a state governmental agency such as the Pinelands Commission or like agency having jurisdiction over land use, as may be applicable to the Borough of Runnemede, shall serve as evidence of the need for a facility in a general area but not as to the need for any specific site within said general area.
The applicant shall agree in writing to submit certification to the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment every five years that the proposed local communications facility is still in use and that its height cannot be decreased because of operational needs. Oversized facilities shall be reduced to the minimum height necessary for operational needs, as determined by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment, within 12 months of the certification.
Use of existing structures. The use of existing structures as support platforms for local communications facilities shall be required in all cases where consent of the structure's owner has been secured; use of the structure will not interfere with the signal emitted from other local communications facilities and is otherwise technically feasible; use of the structure will not increase the total number or affect the location of new towers that will be built in the municipality; and the following circumstances apply:
Use of the structure will not require an expansion and the addition of a local communications facility does not harm the character and integrity of the existing structure;
Use of the structure will require an expansion in height but not in excess of 50% of its current height, area or massing profile, and it is either in a certified plan approved by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment or it is an existing communication structure; or
Use of the structure will require an expansion in excess of 50% where the site is identified in a comprehensive plan approved by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment and the expansion or reconstruction will preserve the current use and the visual impact of installation of expanded structure will be less than that of a new local communications facility.
The applicant shall agree that if a new tower is approved, co-location will be permitted unless technically infeasible. The applicant shall also agree that all of the local communications facilities under his or her control within the municipality shall be made available for co-location purposes.
It is the intention of the Borough of Runnemede to locate necessary towers within the SED (Special Economic Development District) of the Borough of Runnemede unless clear and convincing evidence is provided that satisfactory communication facilities cannot be provided in said zone, and then after only such evidence presented shall the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of the Borough of Runnemede consider a use variance in an alternate zoning district.
All zoning districts. The following provisions shall apply throughout the municipality.
Local communications facilities shall be located so as to meet the technical operating requirements of the applicant and any potential co-locators who have expressed a desire to use the same facility.
Local communications facilities shall be located, in order of preference, on:
Existing structures whose appearance would not be significantly altered (no more than de minimis change in their mass or height, and no impact upon a historic structure or structures within historic districts that have been designated in accordance with the provisions of N.J.A.C. 7:50-6.154, unless the installation can be accomplished consistent with the criteria of N.J.A.C. 7:50-6.156);
Other structures whose appearance would be significantly altered, provided that the visual impact of the former would not exceed that of the eligible undeveloped sites; and
Undeveloped sites eligible for a new tower.
All freestanding local communications facility towers shall maintain a minimum distance of 250 feet from any other structure not on the parcel, public road, sidewalk, residentially developed lot or recreational area and shall comply with the siting design provisions of this chapter, where applicable. The Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment may reduce this setback requirement by as much as 50% of the required distance, if it finds that limited sites and land tenure necessitates such reduction and safety and visual impacts may be alternately addressed.
All local communications facilities shall meet or exceed current standards and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission and any other agency of the state or federal government with relevant authority. If such standards or regulations are amended, the owners of local communications facilities in the municipality shall bring such facilities into compliance within six months of the effective date of such amendments. Failure to bring such facilities into compliance shall constitute grounds for removal of the facility by the municipality at the owner's expense.
All new freestanding support towers shall be designed and constructed so as to accommodate the needs of any other local communications provider who has identified a need to locate a facility within an overlapping service area.
All new freestanding support towers shall be of lattice type construction, except that monopoles may be employed if the applicant warrants that:
The tower can and will be expanded if necessary to the maximum height permitted within the zoning district to accommodate any other local communications provider who expresses a need to co-locate; or
If the tower cannot be expanded, it will be replaced, without service interruption to current users, by a tower which can accommodate the collection needs of other communications providers.
Any accessory shed or other accessory structure shall be built solely to house equipment essential to the operation of the local communications facility and shall be designed, painted, and/or screened by year-round landscaping to blend in with the surrounding environs to the extent possible, as determined by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment. The structure shall be located as close to the antenna support structure as possible and shall not exceed 10 feet in height or 100 square feet in area, unless expressly authorized by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment. Only one such structure shall be permitted per facility user, unless a need is otherwise demonstrated to the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment. If feasible, additional land for the equipment needs of future co-locators shall be secured in the purchase/lease of the selected site or be available by lease agreement.
Any access road to the local communications facility shall be landscaped or be oriented in such a way as to preclude a direct view of the facility from a public venue.
Secure fencing may be required if the municipality determines that it is necessary for the safe operation of the facility.
No artificial lighting may be attached to any local communications facility except as required by the Federal Aviation Administration or other regulatory authority with jurisdiction. Lighting of equipment and any other structures on site shall be shielded from abutting properties. There shall be total cutoff of all light at the property lines of the parcel to be developed, and footcandle measurement at the property line shall be 0.0 footcandles when measured at grade. Lighting shall be the minimum necessary to conform to applicable requirements.
No signs will be attached to any local communications facility except as is necessary to provide operational or maintenance instructions or warnings to the general public. No sign will be attached at a level more than 10 feet above grade. The use of any portion of a facility for any form of advertising is prohibited.
The following standards shall apply to clearing and landscaping for construction of new local communications facilities:
Clearing of existing vegetation shall be limited to the minimum necessary to allow for access to and operation of the facility:
The lower portions of local communications facilities which will be located adjacent to residential zones, recreational areas, or public roads shall be screened at ground level from public view to the maximum extent practical in the following manner:
One or more rows of evergreen trees, at least four feet in height when planted and capable of forming a continuous hedge at lest 15 feet in height within five years of planting, shall be required and spaced not more than seven feet apart around all lattice towers and any monopole over 50 feet in height;
Adjacent to residential zones and recreational areas, an additional row of deciduous trees no less than 1 1/2 inches in diameter measured three feet above grade, and spaced not more than 20 feet apart shall be planted around the evergreen trees;
The screening shall be maintained and replaced as necessary while the facility is in service.
Local communications facilities mounted on an existing structure shall be painted or shielded with material which is consistent with the design features and materials of the structure. To the extent that any local communications facility or its supporting structure extend above the height of the vegetation immediately surrounding it, they shall be painted in a light gray or light blue hue which blends with sky and clouds.
The owner of a local communications facility shall ensure that it is maintained in compliance with standards contained in applicable state or local building codes and the applicable standards for towers that are published by the Electronic Industries Association, as amended from time to time. Such maintenance shall include, but is not limited to, painting, structural integrity of the mount and security barrier, and maintenance of the buffer area and landscaping. If, upon inspection, the municipality concludes that a facility fails to comply with such codes and standards and constitutes a danger to persons or property, then upon notice being provided to the owner of the tower, the owner shall have 30 days to bring the facility into compliance with such standards. Failure to bring such facility into compliance within the thirty-day period shall constitute grounds for the removal of the facility at the owner's expense.
No application for installation of a local communications facility shall be approved unless the applicant has submitted evidence that a surety bond has been established which will provide for removal of the facility and restoration of the disturbed area in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:50-6.24 within 12 months of its ceasing to operate. In any event, the municipality shall, at the expense of the owner, remove any such facility which has been out of operation for a period greater than 12 months.
All local communications facilities shall be operated in a manner consistent with the "Guidelines for Evaluating the Environmental Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation," as published and amended from time to time by the Federal Communications Commission.
Local communications facilities adjacent to residential or public recreational areas shall not increase the ambient noise level nor cause any persistent level of vibration in excess of 50 db beyond the property lines of the parcel on which they are situated.
At annual intervals from the date of the issuance of the conditional use permit, the applicant shall submit measurement of the noise and the radiofrequency radiation from the local communications facility. Such measurements shall be made by a qualified technician and shall certify that they are within applicable limits.
A licensing fee at the rate of $100 per month, per carrier, or provider shall be a prerequisite for any carriers to locate within the Borough of Runnemede. Said licensing fee shall be necessary to offset a periodic inspection under this chapter and such periodic inspections as may be required to promote the general public safety and welfare of the citizens of the Borough of Runnemede. The license shall be issued upon application to the Borough Clerk and shall be countersigned by the appropriate Code Enforcement Official, the Secretary of the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of the Borough of Runnemede and the Fire Official responsible for issuance of certificates of compliance. This license shall be in addition to, and not in place of, any other licensing required by the current Borough of Runnemede ordinances or by any state or federal codes applicable herein.
Preapplication conference: Early consultation by applicants with municipal officials is encouraged so that all information necessary for an informed decision is submitted and delays are avoided. As such, prior to submission of a development application for approval of a local communications facility in accordance with this section, the applicant may request to convene with the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment at a public meeting in order to discuss the proposed facility in general terms and to clarify the filing requirements. Upon receipt of a written request for a preapplication conference, the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment will meet with the applicant at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board for which adequate public notice can be provided. While there are no formal filing requirements for this conference, the applicant is encouraged to prepare sufficient preliminary architectural and/or engineering drawings to inform the Board of the general location and likely scale and design of the facility. Failure to request such a conference will not prejudice any subsequent consideration of a formal application by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment.
New local communications facilities shall require conditional use approval and major site plan approval by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment. All persons seeking to build such a facility must submit an application to the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment which contains the following information:
A scaled site plan clearly indicating the location (including street address and block/lot), type, method of construction and height of any proposed tower and any accessory structure(s); on-site land uses and zoning; contour lines at no greater than five-foot intervals AMSL; existing structures; land uses and zoning within 200 feet (including adjacent municipalities); any roads with 200 feet; proposed means of access; limits of clearing; and setbacks from property lines;
Photographs of the proposed site of the facility showing current conditions;
The setback distance from the nearest structure;
A map showing the location of all other local communications facility towers and other structures within the municipality as well as outside of the municipality within a five-mile radius. The applicant shall also identify the height and type of construction of all such structures;
A landscape plan showing proposed landscaping;
The location and type of proposed fencing, if applicable, and the type, location, color, and power of any illumination;
An assessment of the suitability of the use of existing towers or other structures within the search area to accommodate the local communications facility in lieu of a tower, if a new tower is proposed;
An assessment of the suitability of the site to accommodate additional equipment sheds and similar needs of other wireless providers who may wish to co-locate on the proposed facility;
Written confirmation from any other wireless providers who have expressed a desire to co-locate on the proposed facility approved at any public meeting on the application that the selected site meets their operational needs and space requirements for equipment sheds and the like;
Computer simulation models, photographic juxtaposition and similar techniques are not mandated, but, if submitted in support of the application, may be used by the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment in determining conformance with the visual impact standards.
In the event that co-location is found not to be feasible, a written statement of explanation shall be submitted to the Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment. The Joint Planning/Zoning Board of Adjustment may retain a technical expert in the field of radio frequency engineering to verify if co-location at the site is not feasible or is feasible given the design configuration most accommodating to the co-location, or that a new tower has less visual impact at an alternative site. The cost for such a technical expert will be at the expense of the applicant.
A plot plan, survey and all other plans and documents required for site plan approval as per local, county, state and federal requirements.
The municipality permits wireless communications providers to submit a single application for approval of multiple facilities.
Federal environmental requirements.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) applies to all applications for personal wireless service facilities. NEPA is administered by the FCC via procedures adopted as Subpart 1, Section 1.1301 et seq. (47 CFR Ch. 1). The FCC requires that an environmental assessment be filed with the FCC prior to beginning operations for certain facilities. The environmental assessment must be submitted as part of any municipal application for such a facility.
Federal regulations also require avoidance of siting of new towers in proximity to designated wild and scenic rivers. If an applicant proposes to locate a new tower in proximity to a designated river, proof of federal review and approval of such siting must be submitted as part of any municipal application for such a facility.