Municipalities could lose control over cell tower locations

Mar 13, 2018

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets his way the state will take control of approving new cell phone tower locations, but local officials across New York are opposed.


Cuomo's proposed budget includes legislation that would "severely restrict local government's authority to regulate new cell phone towers" and "give service providers unfettered access to the municipal right-of-way," according to a statement from the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, which is opposing the change.

Amherst Supervisor, Brian Kulpa says, Cuomo's plan raises a lot of questions.

"We need to strengthen our broadband throughout all of our municipalities and throughout the state. I think that's a given. The thing we have to make sure we do, as we do that, not sort of abandon the priorities of local home owners, the priorities of local property owners, that have a stake in the game as well," Kulpa said.

Verizon declined an interview, but in a written statement the company said, the Executive Budget proposal would improve services and pave the way for 5G, the next generation of wireless technology.

Village of Lancaster Mayor, Bill Schroeder tells WBFO News, municipalities can handle regulating cell towers "just fine."
"We have a number of cell towers in our village and we've had no problems. And, I think, that once the state gets involved that they just have a tendency to make things much more complicated and difficult and there's very little benefit to the municipalities," Schroeder said.

But Verizon says it faces inconsistent municipal regulations and high local fees to access public rights of way and Cuomo's plan would establish a uniform process and reasonable fees.

Kulpa says he's concerned about the town losing its control over the citing process.
"And then, at the same time, we're now sort of losing the fees that are associated with the permitting process and that doesn't necessarily bode well either," Kulpa said.  

Verizon says, excessive municipal regulations and fees slows the pace at which the company can bring the public faster wireless speeds, increased data capacity and new technologies.