[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Bridgewater 9-7-2004 by Ord. No. 9-04-A. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to provide the Township the authority to accommodate and regulate necessary utility infrastructure for the provision of wireless communications facilities within the Township, to encourage the siting of wireless communications facilities in nonresidential areas on existing structures, to address the safety, visual and aesthetic aspects of wireless communications facilities, and to provide for public input in the process of siting wireless communications antenna towers.
The Board of Supervisors finds the regulation of wireless communications facilities is necessary to protect the rural character of the Township and the property values of the community. Such regulation is needed to protect schools, parks, churches, playgrounds, historic districts, sites, and structures; to preserve scenic areas; to minimize aesthetic impacts; to preserve the health and safety of residents; and to respect the need of wireless communications service providers to relay signals without electronic interference from other service providers' operations, while not unreasonably limiting competition among them.
The Board of Supervisors declares the protection of residential dwellings to be of paramount importance, and that any local regulations of wireless communications facilities must furnish all possible protection for residential areas, and further declares that the provisions of this chapter are to be interpreted to favor protection of residential dwellings. The Board of Supervisors shall, before issuing a permit for a wireless communications facility affecting a dwelling, satisfy itself that all other alternatives have been exhausted.
In general, consolidations, shared use and co-location of antenna and antenna-mounting structures is preferred to the construction of new facilities.
In addition to all other applicable local, state and federal requirements, the following regulations shall apply to wireless communications facilities (WCF), including, but not limited to, wireless phone antennas, antennas for communications service regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and other wireless antennas and associated facilities.
Permits; enforcement officer. A permit issued by Board of Supervisors shall be required for every WCF and support structure installed at any location in the Township. The issuance of permits for WCF on existing structures may be delegated to an enforcement officer appointed by resolution of the Board of Supervisors.
Procedure; public hearing. The Board of Supervisors shall conduct a public hearing pursuant to notice within 45 days after the submission of a formal, complete application, including such technical information from the applicant as may be required by this chapter. In the case of a WCF on an existing structure, the public hearing shall be optional as determined by the Board of Supervisors.
Notice of the public hearing shall be by publication in the official newspaper of the Township at least 10 days prior to the hearing.
The hearing notice shall indicate that the application may be examined and that further information is available from the Township office during regular business hours.
Copies of the publication order shall be mailed by the applicant by certified mail to the owners of property within 500 feet of the property which is the subject of the application, and an affidavit of service thereof shall be filed with the Township on or before the date of the hearing. Failure of any addressee to receive such notice properly mailed shall not in any manner affect the jurisdiction of the Township or any action taken on the application.
The Board of Supervisors shall approve, approve with conditions or disapprove the application under the provisions of this chapter within 60 days after a public hearing.
The period in which the Board of Supervisors shall take action may be extended with the written consent of the applicant.
Planning Commission review. The Board of Supervisors or enforcement officer may refer any application for a WCF to the Township Planning Commission and/or the County Planning Commission for review and comment. Planning Commission comments, if any, shall be provided to the Board of Supervisors within 30 days of the Commission's receipt of the application.
Application fee; review fees. The applicant shall pay the application fee as established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. In addition, the applicant shall pay all professional costs incurred by the Township for review of structural, radio frequency and other technical aspects of the proposal and shall deposit with the Township an amount deemed adequate by the Board of Supervisors to cover the anticipated costs. If the review costs exceed the deposit, an additional assessment shall be made. If the deposit exceeds the cost, the balance shall be returned to the applicant. No approval shall become effective until all costs have been paid by the applicant.
Site plan. A full site plan shall be required for all WCF and support structure sites, showing the WCF, WCF support structure, and all information required to determine compliance with this chapter. New support structures and/or the construction of a communications equipment building or other roofed structure which have a combined gross floor area of greater than 100 square feet shall be considered a land development subject to the Township or County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, whichever is applicable.
Information requirements. For all proposed wireless communications antennas, the following minimum information shall be provided. The items in Subsection B(11) through (17) shall be included in a report prepared by a radio frequency engineer, health physicist or other qualified professional:
Name and address of the property owner and the applicant.
Address, lot and block and/or parcel number of the property.
Name and address of person preparing the plan.
Size of the property and the location of all lot lines.
Approximate location of nearest residential structure.
Approximate location of nearest occupied structure.
Location of all structures on the property which is the subject of the application.
Location, size and height of all proposed and existing antennas and all appurtenant structures on the property.
Type, size and location of all proposed landscaping and fences.
A report by a Pennsylvania-registered and licensed professional engineer, documenting compliance with applicable structural standards and describing the general structural capacity of any proposed installation.
The number and type of antennas proposed.
A description of the proposed antennas and all related fixtures, structures, appurtenances and apparatus, including height above grade, materials, color and lighting.
A description of the antenna's function and purpose.
The make, model and manufacturer of any proposed structure and antenna.
The frequency, modulation and class of service.
Transmission and maximum effective radiated power.
Direction of maximum lobes and associated radiation and compliance with FCC regulations.
Existing and planned facilities. The applicant shall provide details about the location, height and operational characteristics of all existing facilities of the applicant in and immediately adjacent to the Township. The applicant shall also provide a five-year plan for the provision of additional facilities in and immediately adjacent to the Township, indicating whether each proposed facility is for initial coverage or capacity building purposes, showing proposed general locations or areas in which additional facilities are expected to be needed. Subsequent applications shall confirm or modify the facility service plan, so that the Township will be kept up-to-date on future activities.
Operational compliance. Within 90 days of operating any transmitting antenna, the owner or operator shall submit to the Township a written certification by a Pennsylvania-registered and licensed professional that the WCF complies with this chapter and all other applicable government regulations.
Change in ownership/operation. If the name or address of the owner or operator of the antenna facility is changed, the Township shall be notified of the change within 90 days.
Consent for co-location. The applicant shall provide written consent to allow additional antennas (for purposes of co-locating) on any new antenna towers.
Associated uses. All other uses ancillary to the WCF (including a business office, maintenance depot, vehicle storage, etc.) are prohibited from the WCF site, unless otherwise permitted by Township ordinances. This shall not prohibit the installation, as accessory structures, of equipment containers not intended for human occupancy to house only equipment necessary for the operation of the WCF.
The following requirements shall apply to all proposed wireless communications antennas:
RF estimate. For proposed sites within 100 feet of other sources of radio frequency (RF) energy emanating from other wireless communications facilities, the applicant shall provide an estimate of the maximum total exposure from all nearby stationary sources and comparison with relevant standards. This assessment shall include individual and ambient levels of exposure. It shall not include such residentially based facilities, such as cordless telephones.
NIER: Measurements and calculations. No source of nonionizing electromagnetic radiation (NIER), including facilities operational before the effective date of this chapter, shall exceed the federal or state NIER emission standard. All applicants for wireless communications facilities shall submit calculations of the estimated NIER output of the antenna(s). NIER levels shall be measured and calculated as follows:
Measuring equipment used shall be generally recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRPM), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or National Bureau of Standards (NBS) as suitable for measuring NIER at frequencies and power levels of the proposed and existing sources of NIER.
Measuring equipment shall be calibrated as recommended by the manufacturer in accord with methods used by the NBS and ANSI, whichever has the most current standard.
The effect of contributing individual sources of NIER within the frequency range of a broadband measuring instrument may be specified by separate measurement of these sources using a narrowband measuring instrument.
NIER measurements shall be taken based on maximum equipment output. NIER measurements shall be taken or calculated when and where NIER levels are expected to be highest due to operating and environmental conditions.
NIER measurements shall be taken or calculated along the property lines at an elevation of six feet above grade at such locations where NIER levels are expected to be highest and at the closest occupied structure.
NIER measurements shall be taken or calculated following spatial averaging procedures generally recognized and used by experts in the field of RF measurement or other procedures recognized by the FCC, EPA, NCRPM, ANSI and NBS.
NIER calculations shall be consistent with the FCC, Office of Science and Technology (OST) Bulletin 65, or other engineering practices recognized by the EPA, NCRPM, ANSI, NBS, or similarly qualified organization.
Measurements and calculations shall be certified by a Pennsylvania-registered and licensed professional, health physicist or a radio frequency engineer. The measurements and calculations shall be accompanied by an explanation of the protocol, methods and assumptions used.
WCF as a second principal use. A WCF shall be permitted on a property with an existing use, subject to the following land development standards:
The minimum lot area, minimum setbacks and maximum height required by this chapter for the WCF and support structure shall apply, and the land remaining for accommodation of the existing principal use(s) on the lot shall also continue to comply with the minimum lot area, density and other requirements.
The vehicular access to the equipment building shall, whenever feasible, be provided along the circulation driveways of the existing use.
The applicant shall present documentation that the owner of the property has granted an easement filed of record or other legal interest for the land for the proposed facility and that vehicular access is provided to the facility.
Discontinued use. If any WCF or support structure ceases to be used as a communications facility, the owner or operator or then owner of the land on which the WCF and support structure is located shall be required to remove the same within 90 days from the abandonment of use. Failure to do so shall authorize the Township to remove the facility and assess the cost of removal to the foregoing parties. In addition, at the time of permit issuance for any WCF, the Township shall require a financial guarantee, in a term, form and amount determined by the Board of Supervisors with the advice of their Solicitor, to guarantee the removal of the WCF. If such guarantee is inadequate, the Township shall be authorized to use all means provided in law, including a municipal lien, to recover all costs of removal.
Identification sign; warning signs. All antennas shall be identified with a conspicuously posted sign, not to exceed six square feet, listing the owner or operator's name and emergency telephone numbers. In areas where NIER standards are exceeded and/or high risks of shock or burns exist, appropriate warning signs shall be posted.
Antenna separation. New antennas shall not be sited within 500 feet of any existing antenna. This restriction shall not apply to the siting of new antennas at an existing site.
Licenses; other regulations. The applicant must demonstrate that it has obtained the required licenses from the Federal Communications Commission, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and other agencies. The applicant shall also document compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations.
Insurance. The applicant shall submit a certificate of insurance evidencing general liability coverage in the minimum amount of $2,000,000 per occurrence and property damage coverage in the minimum amount of $2,000,000 per occurrence covering the WCF and support structure. The applicant shall provide the Township with annual proof of renewal prior to expiration.
Communications interference. The applicant shall document that the radio, television, telephone or reception of similar signals for nearby properties will not be disturbed or diminished.
Historic structures. A WCF shall not be located on an historic building or structure or within 500 feet of such a building or structure.
Signs; lighting; FAA and PADOT notice.
No signs or lights shall be mounted on a WCF except as may be required by this chapter, the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration or other governmental agency which has jurisdiction.
No WCF support structure may be artificially lighted, except as required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The applicant shall provide a copy of the response to notice of proposed construction or alteration forms submitted to the FAA and PADOT Bureau of Aviation, and the WCF and support structure shall comply with all FAA and PADOT requirements.
Fire-suppression system. The applicant shall provide details about any fire-suppression system installed in any accessory structure or equipment container associated with the WCF.
For roof-mounted, co-located or other situations in which public exposure is likely, the application shall include:
Potential public exposure: an assessment of potential public exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy from the proposed facility, indicating the facility's compliance with applicable federal or state standards. The applicant shall identify the maximum exposure level, the locations at which this occurs and the estimated RF levels at specific locations of community interest, such as schools, residences or commercial buildings. Assumptions used in the calculations shall be stated, including building heights and topography.
Multiple-source assessment: a multiple-source exposure impact assessment shall be prepared if the wireless communications facility is to be situated on the same site as existing facilities, such as a tower or roof.
Maximum exposure: evidence that the maximum exposure to the general public will not exceed federal or state standards.
Public access: an identification of rooftop areas to which the public may have access. The exposure in these areas shall be in compliance with the standards established by any federal or state agencies.
Restricted access: an identification of how much of the roof, if any, should be restricted from public access due to RF field levels in accord with the applicable federal or state standards and notification of the same to building management.
The requirements of this section shall apply to WCF attached to existing buildings and structures where the WCF does not extend more than 15 feet higher than the existing structure.
Roof mounting. Antennas shall be set back from the outer edge of the roof a distance equal to or greater than 10% of the rooftop length and width, or such antennas shall be attached directly to the roof parapet wall, whichever, in the Board of Supervisors' opinion, will have the minimal visual impact while achieving signal coverage requirements.
Color of installation. If the Board of Supervisors so requires, supports and antennas shall be the same color as the predominant color of the exterior of the top floor or parapet of the building, except to the extent required by law for safety purposes.
Information required. In addition to the other information required by this chapter, the applicant shall provide the following:
Evidence from a Pennsylvania-registered and licensed professional certifying that the proposed installation will not exceed the structural capacity of the building or other structure, considering wind and other loads associated with the antenna location.
Detailed construction and elevation drawings indicating how the antennas will be mounted on the structure for review by the Township for compliance with the applicable requirements.
Evidence of recorded agreements and/or easements necessary to provide access to the building or structure on which the antennas are to be mounted so that installation and maintenance of the WCF and associated equipment can be accomplished.
A WCF site with a WCF that is either not mounted on an existing structure or which is more than 15 feet higher than the structure on which it is mounted shall, in addition to all other applicable requirements, comply with the following:
Service provider required. No building permit shall be issued for any new WCF governed by this section until the applicant provides documentation to the Board of Supervisors that a service provider has contracted for the use of the facility. An applicant may apply for approval of the WCF, and such approval may be granted by the Board of Supervisors, but the building permit shall not be issued until the required service provider documentation is provided.
Location requirement and number. The applicant shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Township, using technological evidence, that the WCF and support structure must go where it is proposed, in order to satisfy its function in the company's grid system. The number of WCF to be installed at a site by an applicant may not exceed the current minimum necessary to ensure the adequacy of current service required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license held by that applicant.
Co-location; new tower. The Board of Supervisors may require the applicant to demonstrate that the applicant contacted, in writing, the owners of tall structures within a five-mile radius of the site proposed, asked for permission to install the WCF on those structures, and was denied. This would include smokestacks, water towers, tall buildings, WCF support structures of other cellular phone companies, other communications towers (fire, police, etc.) and other tall structures. The Board of Supervisors may deny the application to construct a new tower if the applicant has not made a good faith effort to mount the WCF on an existing structure, thereby documenting that there exists no other support structure which can reasonably serve the needs of the owner of the proposed WCF. A good faith effort shall demonstrate that one or more of the following reasons apply to a particular structure:
The proposed equipment would exceed the structural capacity of the existing structure, and its reinforcement cannot be accomplished at a reasonable cost.
The proposed equipment would cause radio frequency interference with other existing equipment for that existing structure, and the interference cannot be prevented at a reasonable cost.
Such existing structures do not have adequate location, space, access or height to accommodate the proposed equipment or to enable it to provide service consistent with the provider's system requirements.
Addition of the proposed equipment would result in electromagnetic radiation from such structure exceeding applicable standards established by the Federal Communications Commission governing human exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
A commercially reasonable agreement could not be reached with the owners of such structures.
WCF height; design.
Minimum height. The applicant shall demonstrate that the WCF is at the minimum height required to function satisfactorily and can ultimately provide adequate height and support for eight service providers. The WCF shall comply with any applicable airport hazard zoning ordinance.
Stackable. The Board of Supervisors may require the tower to be designed and constructed to be stackable (structurally capable of being increased in height) so that additional antenna arrays can be accommodated in addition to the arrays on the original tower to facilitate future co-location.
Visual impact; stealth design. The applicant shall provide to the Township graphic information that accurately portrays the visual impact of the proposed tower from various vantage points selected by the Board of Supervisors, such as but not limited to parks, designated historic sites or districts or designated scenic areas. This graphic information may be provided in the form of photographs or computer-generated images with the tower superimposed, as may be required by the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors may require the applicant to conduct a balloon test to confirm the visual impact. The Board of Supervisors may require stealth design or specific colors, consistent with applicable federal regulations, to ensure that the WCF is compatible with the surrounding landscape.
Setbacks. If a new WCF support structure is constructed (as opposed to mounting the WCF on an existing structure) or if the WCF height exceeds the height of the existing structure on which it is mounted by more than 15 feet, the following minimum setbacks shall apply:
Separate parcel. If the parcel on which the WCF and support structure are located is a separate and distinct parcel, the distance between the base of the support structure and any adjoining property line shall not be less than the height of the WCF structure plus 30 feet. The setback for equipment containers, other accessory structures, and guy wire anchors shall be a minimum of 30 feet.
Lease, license or easement. If the land on which the WCF and support structure is located is leased or is used by license or easement, the setback for any part of the WCF, the support structure, equipment containers, other accessory structures and guy wire anchors shall be a minimum of 30 feet from the line of lease, license or easement. In any case, the distance between the base of the support structure and any adjoining property line (not lease, license or easement line) shall not be less than the height of the WCF structure plus 30 feet.
Residential dwellings. Support structures shall be separated from residential dwellings on adjacent or proximate properties by not less than two times the height of the structure.
Setback reduction. The setbacks in Subsection E(1), (2) and (3) above may be reduced to not less than 30 feet, provided the affected property owner provides to the applicant permission for the lesser setback. Such permission shall be in the form of a recorded agreement between the affected property owner and the applicant.
WCF support structure safety. The applicant shall demonstrate that the proposed WCF and support structure are safe and the surrounding areas will not be negatively affected by support structure failure, falling ice or other debris, electromagnetic fields, or radio frequency interference. All support structures shall be fitted with anti-climbing devices, as approved by manufacturers. The applicant shall submit certification from a Pennsylvania-registered and licensed professional that a proposed WCF and support structure will be designed and constructed in accordance with the current Structural Standards for Steel Antenna Towers and Antenna Supporting Structures, published by the Electrical Industrial Association/Telecommunications Industry Association, and applicable requirements of any applicable building code.
Fencing. A fence, a minimum of eight feet in height and of a design to restrict unauthorized access, shall be installed around the WCF support structure and other equipment.
Existing vegetation on and around the site shall be preserved to the greatest extent possible.
Landscaping installation and maintenance may be required to screen as much of the support structure as possible, the fence surrounding the support structure, any other ground-level features (such as a building), and, in general, buffer the WCF and support structure site from neighboring properties and the sight lines from prominent viewing locations.
The Board of Supervisors may permit any combination of existing vegetation, topography, walls, decorative fences or other features instead of landscaping, if they achieve the same degree of screening as the required landscaping.
Access. Access to the WCF and support structure shall be provided by means of a public street or easement to a public street in accord with a local or state highway occupancy permit, as applicable. The easement shall be a minimum of 20 feet in width and shall be improved to a width of at least 10 feet, with a dust-free, all-weather surface for its entire length. Access shall, if feasible, be provided along existing access points and drives.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- American National Standards Institute.
- A system of electrical conductors for radiating or receiving radio waves.
- ANTENNA, WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS
- Any device, including the supporting structure and all related appurtenances, used for the transmission and reception of radio waves as part of wireless two-way communications.
- The mounting of wireless communications antennas used by two or more competing providers on the same antenna support structure, monopole or antenna tower.
- Federal Communications Commission.
- The number of sinusoidal cycles made by electromagnetic radiation in one second; usually expressed in units of hertz (Hz).
- HISTORIC BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES
- Any locations designated by municipal, county, state or federal agencies as having significance as historic districts, sites or structures.
- NIER (NONIONIZING ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION)
- Electromagnetic radiation of such frequency that the energy of the radiation does not dissociate electrons from their constituent atoms when an atom absorbs the electromagnetic radiation.
- Radio frequency.
- SUPPORT STRUCTURE
- Any pole, telescoping mast, tower, tripod, or any other structure which supports a wireless communications antenna.
- SUPPORT STRUCTURE HEIGHT
- The vertical distance measured from the base of the support structure at grade to the highest point of the structure. If the support structure is on a sloped grade, then the average between the highest and lowest grades shall be used in calculating the height.
- WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES (WCF)
- Any facility for the receiving or transmitting of wireless signals for commercial purposes, such as cellular telephone services, personal communications services (PCS), fleet communications systems and similar commercial facilities, whether operated in support of another business activity or available for the transmission of signals on a sale or rental basis. As used herein, the term shall include necessary equipment buildings as well as towers or monopoles. The definition does not include:
- A. Industrial, scientific and medical equipment as regulated by the Federal Communications Commission in 47 CFR 18.
- B. Military and government radar antennas and associated communications towers used for navigational purposes as regulated by 47 CFR 87.
- C. Amateur (ham) and citizen band transmitting and receiving antennas and associated communications towers as regulated by 47 CFR 97 and 47 CFR 95.
- D. Radio transceivers normally handheld or installed in a vehicle, such as an automobile, truck, trailer or watercraft.
- E. A radio frequency machine which is designated and marketed as a consumer product, such as auditory assistance devices, biomedical telemetry devices, carrier current systems, Class A or B digital devices, field disturbance sensors, perimeter protection systems, power line carrier systems, microwave ovens or radio-controlled devices regulated by 47 CFR 15.
- F. Private facilities (antennas, transceivers, or modems) which serve a dwelling, farm, or business for receiving commercial television or radio, for wireless Internet access, for wireless networking of on-premises devices or standard consumer end-user wireless products such as cell phone handsets or cordless phones.
Any person who violates or permits a violation of this chapter shall, upon conviction in a summary proceeding brought before a Magisterial District Judge under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, be guilty of a summary offense and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000, plus costs of prosecution. In default of payment thereof, the defendant may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days. Each day or portion thereof that such violation continues or is permitted to continue shall constitute a separate offense, and each section of this chapter that is violated shall also constitute a separate offense.
Costs. The Board of Supervisors may cause the removal or clearing of any structure or material to be commenced and/or completed if the same is not effected by the violator. The cost and expense thereof, including, but not limited to, materials, labor, and legal fees, together with a penalty of 20%, shall be collected from the violator in any manner provided by law. The recovery of such costs of abatement, together with the penalty, may be in addition to the penalty prescribed in Subsection A above. The Township shall be authorized to use all means provided in law, including a municipal lien, to recover all costs.
Other remedies. In addition to any penalty therein provided, any person, persons, firm, partnership or corporation who or which shall violate any provision of this chapter shall be subject to any law or laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which afford a remedy for such violation in any court of the commonwealth.
Should any provision of this chapter be in conflict with any other section, provision, regulation or standard of any other Township ordinance, the more restrictive shall apply.