New cell tower likely to be built in Platte City

BOA approves zoning change to help keep structures out of residential areas

DJ Gehrt knows more telecommunication infrastructure will come to Platte City, so the Board of Aldermen plan to address the issue on the front end, rather than react to potential changes. The aldermen approved a change to Platte City’s planning and zoning code (Bill No. 2014-16) to make agricultural land within city limits open to telecom development. AT&T has been in talks with the city since early this year about a new cell tower, and this change in code helps avoid a potential large structure in a residential area. “The telecoms in talking to us have been very responsible, but we want to make it easier for them to remain responsible,” said Gehrt, Platte City administrator. Gehrt expects this to be the first of numerous changes in response to recent Missouri legislation. Passed Senate Bills 649, 650, 651 and 653 were signed into law this past March, much of the wording in the three pieces of legislation having originated from a single bill enacted in 2013 but later enjoined because it was found to be in violation of the Missouri Constitution. Bill 649 and Senate Bill 653 address management of public rights-of-way and utility pole access; Senate Bill 650 places parameters on the wireless approval process to encourage more timely investment in broadband expansion and wireless service improvement; and Senate Bill 651 addresses immunity for telecommunications companies in emergency situations. According to Gehrt, interpretations of these laws suggest cities have lost some land-use authority with telecom lines, poles, underground cables and cell towers. “We know what they say but nobody knows for sure how these new laws are going to be interpreted and implemented,” Gehrt said. Platte City has tried to limit cell towers to major transportation corridors and commercial and industrial areas and only allowed mono-poles, rather than lattice structures.

Read the whole story in this week's issue of The Citizen.