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County Council ZTA 02-03
  Ordinance No: 14-65
Zoning Text Amendment No: 02-03
Concerning: Telecommunications Facilities
Special Exceptions
Draft No. & Date: 2 - 10/29/02
Introduced: March 5, 2002
Public Hearing: April 9, 2002; 1:30 PM
Adopted: October 29, 2002
Effective: November 18, 2002
 
COUNTY COUNCIL FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
SITTING AS THE DISTRICT COUNCIL FOR THAT PORTION OF
THE MARYLAND-WASHINGTON REGIONAL DISTRICT WITHIN
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
 

By: Councilmember Praisner

 
AN AMENDMENT to the Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance for the purpose of:
    (1) revising the standards for the grant of a telecommunication facility special
    exception, and
    (2) generally amending the standards for the grant of a telecommunication facility
    special exception.

    By amending the following section of the Montgomery County Zoning
    Ordinance, Chapter 59 of the Montgomery County Code:
     
     
    Division 59-A-6 "USES PERMITTED IN MORE THAN ONE CLASS OF ZONE"
    Section 59-A-6.14 "Antenna for a private telecommunication facility mounted on a
    rooftop or structure located on privately owned land"
    DIVISION 59-G-2 "SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS-STANDARDS AND
    REQUIREMENTS"
    EXPLANATION: Boldface indicates a heading or a defined term.
    Underlining indicates text that is added to existing laws
    by the original text amendment.
    [Single boldface brackets] indicate text that is deleted from
    existing law by the original text amendment.
    Double underlining indicates text that is added to the text
    amendment by amendment.
    [[Double boldface brackets]] indicate text that is deleted
    from the text amendment by amendment.
    * * * indicates existing law unaffected by the text amendment.

OPINION

Zoning Text Amendment No. 02-03 was introduced on March 5, 2002. The ZTA as introduced would increase residential protections by establishing a maximum height for a support structure and encouraging a support structure design that is compatible with the environment. Due to concerns that have been raised over the potential for an excessive number of telecommunication facilities being constructed on a lot or parcel, the ZTA would prevent any telecommunication facility from locating within 1,500 feet of another telecommunication facility, unless a closer proximity is required for service. The ZTA is intended to further previous efforts to put in place clear and effective zoning regulations to control telecommunication facilities and balance the need for these facilities with community concerns.

The Montgomery County Planning Board in its report to the Council recommended that the text amendment be approved with revisions.

The County Council held a public hearing on April 9, 2002, to receive testimony concerning the proposed text amendment. The text amendment was referred to the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee for review and recommendation.

The Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee held worksessions on July 8, September 30 and October 14, 2002 to review Zoning Text Amendment 02-03. The Committee fully discussed the issues raised by industry and community representatives. Important elements of the ZTA, as recommended by the Committee include: (1) clarification that the size of a leased parcel for construction of a telecommunication tower is not required to be the minimum area required for the zone, (2) a maximum telecommunication tower height of 199 feet, and (3) tower siting and design requirements to achieve compatibility with the residential community.

Under current law, the wireless and the radio/television transmitting towers are subject to the same zoning regulations. The Committee identified several confusing zoning elements that pertain to wireless and to radio/television broadcast facilities that need to be addressed and clarified. The Committee recommends that a comprehensive review of the zoning requirements for self-supporting broadcast towers be undertaken to determine whether any different zoning requirements unique to a broadcast tower should be enacted. The Committee also recommended that the proposed separation restriction of 1,500 feet between telecommunication towers, not be implemented at this time, but set aside and taken-up in connection with the review of self-supporting broadcast towers. The same zoning requirements will continue to apply to both types of towers, until definitional changes and revisions to clarify the differences between radio and television towers, and towers for personal service are implemented.

The District Council reviewed Zoning Text Amendment No. 02-03 at a worksession held on October 29, 2002, and agreed with the recommendations of the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee.

For these reasons and because to approve this amendment will assist in the coordinated, comprehensive, adjusted and systematic development of the Maryland-Washington Regional District located in Montgomery County, Zoning Text Amendment No. 02-03 will be approved as amended.

 
ORDINANCE

The County Council for Montgomery County, Maryland, sitting as the District Council for that portion of the Maryland-Washington Regional District in Montgomery County, Maryland, approves the following ordinance:

 
Sec. 1. Division 59-A-6 is amended as follows:
DIVISION 59-A-6. USES PERMITTED IN MORE THAN ONE CLASS OF ZONE.
* * *
Sec. 59-A-6.14. Antenna for a private telecommunication facility mounted on a rooftop or structure located on privately owned land.
    (a) An antenna and a related unmanned equipment building or cabinet may be installed on a rooftop as a matter of right if [[it meets]] the following standards are met.
    (1) The building must be at least 30 feet in height in any multi-family, commercial or industrial zone.
    (2) The building must be greater than 50 feet in height in any one-family residential zone. However, a rooftop telecommunication antenna is not permitted on a one-family residence or a building or structure accessory to a one-family residence.
    (3) An antenna may be mounted on the facade of the building at a height of at least 30 feet in a multi-family, commercial, or industrial zone, and at a height greater than 50 feet in a one-family residential zone. However, a telecommunication antenna must not be mounted on the facade of a one-family residence or a building or structure accessory to a one-family residence.
    (4) An unmanned equipment building or cabinet must not exceed 560 square feet and 12 feet in height or 14 feet in height for a roof top structure, including the support structure for the equipment building, except that a single equipment building in excess of 560 square feet, located at ground level, may be used for more than one telecommunication provider, if:

      (i) the overall square footage does not exceed 1500 square feet and 12 feet in height,
      (ii) the building is used for more than one telecommunication provider operating from the same monopole or tower, and
      (iii) the building is reviewed by the Telecommunications Transmission Facility Coordinating Group in accordance with Sec. 2-58E of the County Code.
      If the equipment building or cabinet is at ground level in a residential zone, the building or cabinet must be faced with brick or other suitable material on all sides and surrounded by landscaping providing a screen of at least 3 feet in height, and must conform to the [[applicable]] setback standards of the applicable zone.

    (5) If the equipment building is located on the roof of a building, the equipment building or cabinet and other structure, in combination with any other equipment building and structure, must not occupy more than 25% of the roof area.

      (b) In addition to a rooftop, an antenna may be attached as a matter of right to an existing structure on privately owned land, including but not limited to a radio, television, or telephone transmission tower, a monopole, a light pole, a water tank, or an overhead transmission line support structure. An equipment building located on such a structure is subject to the requirements of subsection (a)(4). A structure constructed for the support of: (1) an antenna that is part of an amateur radio station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, or (2) an antenna to receive television imaging in the home, may not be used as a support structure for any other antenna.
Sec. 2. Division 59-G-2 is amended as follows:
DIVISION 59-G-2. SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS-STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS.
* * *
59-G-2.43. Public utility buildings, public utility structures and telecommunication facilities.
(j) Any telecommunication facility must satisfy the following standards:
    [(1) The minimum parcel or lot area must be sufficient to accommodate the location requirements for the support structure under paragraph (2), excluding the antenna(s), but not less than the lot area required in the zone. The location requirement is measured from the base of the support structure to the property line. The Board of Appeals may reduce the location requirement to not less than the building setback of the applicable zone if the applicant requests a reduction and evidence indicates that a support structure can be located on the property in a less visually unobtrusive location after considering the height of the structure, topography, existing vegetation, adjoining and nearby residential properties, if any, and visibility from the street.]
    [(2)](1)[[A telecommunication facility, including support structure and antenna, must not be within 1,500 feet of another telecommunication facility, unless a closer proximity is required for service.]] A support structure must be [located] set back from the property line as follows:
      a. In agricultural and residential zones, a distance of one foot from the property line for every foot of height of the support structure.
      b. In commercial and industrial zones, a distance of one-half foot from property line for every foot of height of the support structure from a property line separating the subject site from commercial or industrial zoned properties, and one foot for every foot of height of the support structure from residential or agricultural zoned properties.
      c. [These location requirements apply to perimeter lot lines and not to interior lot lines.] The setback from a property line is measured from the base of the support structure to the perimeter property line.
      d. The Board of Appeals may reduce the setback requirement to not less than the building setback of the applicable zone if the applicant requests a reduction and evidence indicates that a support structure can be located on the property in a less visually [[un]]obtrusive location after considering the height of the structure, topography, existing vegetation, adjoining and nearby residential properties, if any, and visibility from the street.
    (2) A support structure must be set back from any off-site dwelling [[residential building or structure]] as follows:
      a. In agricultural and residential zones, a distance of 300 feet.
      b. In all other zones, one foot for every foot in height.
      c. The setback is measured from the base of the support structure to the base of the [[residential building or structure]] nearest off-site dwelling.
      d. The Board of Appeals may reduce the setback requirement in the agricultural and residential zones to a distance of one foot from an off-site residential building for every foot of height of the support structure if the applicant requests a reduction and evidence indicates that a support structure can be located in a less visually obtrusive location after considering the height of the structure, topography, existing vegetation, adjoining and nearby residential properties, and visibility from the street
    (3) The support structure and antenna must not exceed 155 feet in height, unless it can be demonstrated that additional height up to 199 feet is needed for service ,[[to accommodate]] collocation, or public safety communication purposes. At the completion of construction and before the final inspection of the building permit, the applicant must submit documentation to the Department of Permitting Services as to the height and location of the support structure.
    (4) [[The antenna and support structure must be designed to minimize the visual impact on the community. The antenna and support structure should be designed to blend into the surrounding environment by use of available camouflaging, stealth design technology, or other means. The support structure and any related equipment buildings or cabinets must be surrounded by landscaping that provides a screen of at least 3 feet in height.]] The support structure must be sited to minimize its visual impact. The Board may require the support structure to be less visually obtrusive by use of screening, coloring, stealth design, or other visual mitigation options, after considering the height of the structure, topography, existing vegetation and environmental features, and adjoining and nearby residential properties. The support structure and any related equipment buildings or cabinets must be surrounded by landscaping or other screening options that provide a screen of at least 6 feet in height.
    [(3)](5)The property owner must be an applicant for the special exception for each support structure. A modification of a telecommunication facility special exception is not required for a change to any use within the special exception area not directly related to the special exception grant. A [freestanding] support structure must be constructed to hold no less than 3 telecommunication carriers. The Board may approve a support structure holding less than 3 telecommunication carriers if: 1) requested by the applicant and a determination is made that collocation at the site is not essential to the public interest; and 2) the Board decides that construction of a lower support structure with fewer telecommunication carriers will promote community compatibility. The equipment compound must have sufficient area to accommodate equipment sheds or cabinets associated with the telecommunication facility for all the carriers.
    [(4)](6)No signs or illumination are permitted on the antennas or support structure unless required by the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, or the County.
    [(5)](7)Every freestanding support structure must be removed at the cost of the [[applicant]] owner of the telecommunication facility when the telecommunication facility is no longer in use by any telecommunication carrier for more than 12 months.
    (8) All support structures must be identified by a sign no larger than 2 square feet affixed to the support structure or any equipment building. The sign must identify the owner and the maintenance service provider of the support structure or any attached antenna and provide the telephone number of a person to contact regarding the structure. The sign must be updated and the Board of Appeals notified within 10 days of any change in ownership.
    (9) Outdoor storage of equipment or other items is prohibited.
    (10) Each [[applicant for the special exception]] owner of the telecommunication facility is responsible for maintaining the telecommunication facility, in a safe condition.
    (11) The applicants for the special exception must file with the Board of Appeals a recommendation from the Telecommunications Transmission Facility Coordinating Group regarding the telecommunication facility. The recommendation must be no more than one year old.
    [[(6)]]12 Prior to the Board granting any special exception for a telecommunication facility, the proposed facility must be reviewed by the County Telecommunication Transmission Facility Coordinating Group. The Board and Planning Board must make a separate, independent finding as to need and location of the facility.
    (k) Any telecommunication facility special exception application for which a public hearing was held before November 18, 2002 must be decided based on the standards in effect when the application was filed
    (l) Any telecommunication facility constructed as of November 18, 2002 may continue as a conforming use.
Sec. 3. Effective date. This ordinance becomes effective 20 days after the date of Council adoption.

This is a correct copy of Council action.

________________________________
Mary A. Edgar, CMC
Clerk of the Council

Last edited: 9/12/2007