On October 26th, the Montgomery County Council held a public meeting to discuss the proposed Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 16-05. ZTA 16-05 would have allowed the installation of new cell towers on our front lawns or elsewhere in our neighborhoods without any public input, including from those directly impacted. The towers would be about 30 feet tall and placed approximately every 12 houses. NPCA and more than 250 residents attended the meeting to voice our concerns.
Due to the feedback from the meeting, the Planning Housing and Economic Development (PHED) committee has withdrawn ZTA 16-05. As a result of that withdrawal the current zoning law which requires a public hearing for all new towers remains in effect. Proposals for at least 120 new towers are pending and could be filed at any time. At least 70 of these proposed sites are in North Potomac, with many more to come throughout the county. These pending applications are on hold while the County Council determines the next best steps to proceed. If local jurisdictions make technology installations too burdensome, the telecommunications companies could request the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene. The FCC already enforces regulations prohibiting any opposition to cell towers based on health concerns and it is likely to continue adding regulations that favor industry expansion.
NPCA is working with HOAs and other concerned citizens to communicate with the PHED committee, and it is hoping to help that committee draft an alternative local ordinance that would protect our neighborhoods as much as possible. We are staying on top of this matter and will keep you posted as new developments occur.