Verizon challenging 'burdensome and unusual' Oregon county cell siting rules

Verizon could soon challenge cell siting rules in Lane County, Oregon, which the carrier's legal representation called "burdensome and unusual."

According to the Register-Guard, Verizon's plan to put up a 120-foot tower in Lane County is being thwarted by a 2005 ordinance that blocks new towers within 1,200 feet of a home or a school without express consent from owners. In the case of the currently proposed tower, two homes are within the 1,200-foot range and a couple living in one of the homes has declared it will not give Verizon its blessing.

The couple, Kevin and Jill Ankeny, have cited health concerns over electromagnetic radiation as well as potential unsightliness.

Verizon is arguing that the county rule is based on health concerns and therefore is in violation of Federal laws preventing local governments from creating rules based on such concerns.

Verizon declined to comment on the potential challenge but, in a statement provided to FierceInstaller, said it is "committed to providing its customers with the uninterrupted voice and data services they demand, and to do so wherever they want and need those services."

"The facility proposed for Bodenhamer Road in Lane County, Oregon, will offload traffic from nearby cell sites and provide much needed coverage and data capacity in the surrounding area. This cell site will provide the increased bandwidth needed to allow customers to access data rich applications like video and music streaming, upload and download photos and video, and utilize remote healthcare and education apps," Verizon said in a statement.

Verizon has run up against the same buffer rule when attempting to erect towers in other parts of the county and the carrier's attorney said the problem is getting to the point that Verizon is starting to believe it won't be possible to further build out service in the area.

Lane County residents, according to the report, argued that Verizon coverage in the area is already adequate for voice service and that the current proposed towers are about boosting capacity to enable better delivery of data-rich applications like mobile video.

In an editorial, the Register-Guard acknowledged that health concerns may not be the best platform for opposing new cell tower construction but warned that granting Verizon a pass on the siting rules would open the door for more operators and tower installation companies to do the same.

Verizon, of course, is no stranger to running up against strict siting rules from local governments and even taking legal action against such conditions. In May, Verizon sued a small California town over cellular installation rules that the carrier said essentially put a ban in place on installing any new wireless facilities.

Local government oversight and approval processes have caused many holdups for cellular installations – including smaller installations like DAS and small cells – and the FCC has set to work on streamlining the process for operators and installers.

For more:
- read this Register-Guard article and editorial

Related articles:
CTIA urges FCC to modify historical preservation siting rules for small cell, DAS deployments
Verizon sues small California town over restrictive wireless installation ordinance
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This article was updated to include a statement from Verizon.