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Here is the final entry of a three-part series of articles outlining the key provisions of new state legislation regarding the deployment of wireless small cell equipment in public right-of-way (ROW). Each of the three-part series addresses newly enacted legislation. The first two articles in the series featured Nebraska and Wisconsin. Today’s article features Maine and Connecticut.

Background

Over the last few years, the wireless industry has actively pursued state legislation enacted to constrain the broad authority of local governments over the deployment of wireless small cell equipment in public ROW. Connecticut, Maine, Nebraska and Wisconsin have now joined Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia to bring the list of states which have enacted legislation to facilitate the deployment of wireless small cells to 28.

These state laws typically limit the authority of local governments to decide where wireless small cell equipment can be installed in the ROW; limit the time for action on applications to install small cell equipment; and limit the amounts that can be charged for applications and use of the ROW.

Today’s blog post will focus on Maine and Connecticut, which took a very different approach from those of Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Maine

This brief new law provides:

With regard to small wireless facilities:

  • Notwithstanding any zoning or land use ordinance to the contrary, a the facility must be a permitted use within the public right-of-way, subject to permitting requirements and duly adopted, nondiscriminatory conditions otherwise applicable to permitted uses within the municipality and consistent with state and federal law, including, without limitation, any permitting requirements in Title 35-A, Chapter 25.
  • The rights and responsibilities of a cable television company under franchise agreement executed pursuant to Section 3008, Subsection 5 are not affected or altered.

Connecticut

 This law establishes a Council on 5G Technology and tasks it with:

  • Reviewing wireless carriers’ requests to place personal wireless service facilities and small wireless facilities, as defined in federal law, on state-owned real property.
  • Determining which state-owned properties may be made available to the wireless carriers for these facilities.

The law requires the Council to:

  • Adopt guidelines for safely placing personal wireless service facilities and protecting open space land.
  • Perform due diligence and review comments from any entities that own property within a 500-foot radius of any state-owned real property under the council’s review.

The law requires the state Office of Policy and Management to:

  • Jointly develop, with certain other state agencies, licensing agreements, forms, and fee structures for placing the wireless facilities on state owned property, noting that the law does not supersede existing rules and requirements regarding the review and approval of permits for proposed personal wireless service facilities under the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s (PURA) and the Connecticut Siting Council’s jurisdiction.
  • In consultation with PURA and the Siting Council, to work with municipalities to establish a process for siting small wireless facilities on municipal property and, when using utility or light poles is insufficient, private property with the property owner’s permission.

Many of the state laws that have been enacted have provisions that are similar to, draw from, or incorporate by reference FCC actions regarding wireless small cell facilities. However, each state law is unique and must be read fully and carefully to determine its detailed provisions and impacts.

For more information about any of these state laws, please contact Michael Fitch, Keller and Heckman Senior Counsel, (fitch@khlaw.com; 202-434-4264)