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Falls Opposes Bill Aimed at Rejecting Local Say on Wireless Antennas

In an effort to ensure Falls Township is not needlessly littered with unnecessary telecommunications equipment for which the governing body had no oversight, the Falls Township Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to oppose a House Bill that, if approved, would strip municipalities of local control.

As proposed, House Bill 2564, the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, would permit wireless providers and cable operators to install antennas in all public rights-of-way.

The municipality, in the exercise of its administration and regulation related to the management of the right-of-way, must be competitively neutral with regard to other users of the right-of-way,” according to the Bill, which was introduced by State Rep. Frank Farry, (R-142). “A municipality may not limit the placement of small wireless facilities by minimum separation distances.”

According to Falls attorney Lauren Gallagher, the Bill, as written, would permit wireless providers and cable operators to install equipment anywhere within Falls Township.

Supervisor Chairman Bob Harvie said he believes the Bill is not constitutional.

“Municipalities do like having a little bit of control,” Harvie said. “(If this Bill becomes law), they can come and start putting devices anywhere they want to.”

In addition to stripping municipalities of local oversight, the proposed law would dramatically decrease the revenue Falls Township currently receives from wireless facilities. The Bill limits annual fees paid to municipalities to $25 per small wireless facility or $25 per new utility pole with a small wireless facility. Officials said Falls currently collects about $300 annually for these devices.

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