Council Chambers, Legislative Bldg, 745 4th Street, Sparks, NV
General Business: 9.8
This agenda item proposes the adoption of an additional Section within Title 12 of the Sparks Municipal Code (Small wireless facilities) to add regulations for the construction, installation, and operation of “small wireless facilities,” also referred to as small cells, located within the City’s right-of-way.
With the increasing use of cellular phones and mobile devices, and the anticipated roll-out of autonomous vehicles and a 5G network, wireless carriers are working to ensure that their networks provide adequate coverage and capacity (“bandwidth”) to serve their customers’ needs. To help address this growing need, wireless carriers are introducing the use of small cell technology. No small wireless facilities have been installed in Sparks to date, but deployment of small wireless facilities has begun in several other cities.
Small wireless facilities are low-powered radio access nodes with a signal range of 30 feet to one mile. Compared to cellular towers or “macrocells,” small wireless facilities have a shorter range and typically handle fewer concurrent calls. A typical small wireless facility is 25 to 45 feet in height, while macrocell sites usually employ towers 90 feet or taller. Small cells are typically attached to existing utility, light, or traffic poles within the public right-of-way or on private property and require an aerial or underground line to access power and fiber to transmit cellular phone and data signals. The use of small wireless facilities is expected to result in fewer macrocell sites being built across the country.
In addition to the recommended addition to Title 12 discussed here, City staff is also concurrently recommending amendments to Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code to address the construction, installation, and operation of small wireless facilities located on private property. The Sparks Planning Commission considered the amendments to Title 20 at is April 4, 2019 meeting and forwarded a recommendation of approval to the City Council. In addition, the City Council will be asked to consider the adoption of a Master License Agreement (MLA) with the various wireless service providers which will govern each provider’s use of the right-of-way, including all applicable fees. If an MLA is approved by the City Council, each wireless carrier will be required to enter into this agreement for the installation and operation of small wireless facilities on City-owned structures within the right-of-way. As a wireless carrier adds small cell sites within the City, their MLA with the City will be supplemented to reflect each unique small cell location. Building permits and any necessary street cut and/or encroachment permits, as necessary, will also be required for the installation of small wireless facilities.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order in late 2018 requiring municipalities to allow for the deployment of small wireless facilities, within certain parameters, and limiting municipalities’ ability to regulate certain aspects of small wireless facilities, including lowering municipal review “shot clock” deadlines for review and aesthetics controls. The FCC has denied a request to stay its recent order. While appeals are pending before the FCC and the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the outcome of those efforts is uncertain and the FCC’s order remains in full effect.
The FCC’s limitations on aesthetic requirements for the deployment of small wireless facilities will take effect on April 15, 2019. Staff is seeking adoption of the changes to Titles 12 and 20 and the Master License Agreements to put aesthetics, engineering, and other standards in place for use in the review of future applications from wireless carriers to install and operate small wireless facilities in Sparks.
The proposed addition of Chapter 12.42.020 to the Sparks Municipal Code is intended to clarify the City’s regulation of small wireless facilities while responding to recent FCC requirements regarding the deployment of small wireless facilities. The proposed addition of Chapter 12.42.020 is intended to clarify the application and approval process, including updated “shot clocks” or deadlines to mirror the FCC’s recent directives, while providing the City of Sparks with as much authority as possible to review proposed small cell sites and ensure that any impacts are properly mitigated as much as possible. The adoption of this proposed addition complies with recent directives from the FCC and will help ensure that small cell technology operated within the City of Sparks will be constructed and installed in a safe and orderly manner.
The use of cellular phones and other mobile devices are a quality of life issue for the citizens of Sparks and are necessary for the operation of most businesses, especially new technology-based businesses starting up or relocating to Sparks. To attract and retain businesses, the quality of wireless networks is critical. Wireless carriers are anticipated to invest private capital in Sparks to improve their networks, which is likely to enhance quality of life for citizens and businesses. City staff provided draft code amendments to 36 known wireless company representatives and contractors, several of whom have met with staff and provided written and verbal comments. The proposed addition of Chapter 12.42.020 to the Sparks Municipal Code reflects stakeholder input received by staff.
In conclusion, staff is recommending that the City Council adopt the proposed addition of Chapter 12.42.020 to the Sparks Municipal Code so as to allow the City of Sparks to address the construction, installation, and operation of small wireless facilities located within City right-of-way.
This is a First Reading only.
This is a First Reading. No motion is required.