5G small cell antennas are hooked up to a mast close to you
Montgomery County’s councilors voted seven to two in favor of a change to their zoning ordinance that will improve 5G access across the county by allowing small cell antennas on existing or new masts.
Councilor Hans Riemer, the driving force behind the rollout of 5G in more areas, cited federal studies on the security of 5G and also said the county needs to keep up with the new technology. Placing antennas on roofs a mile apart is not enough. “We need to get these antennas closer to us,” to improve wireless service, he said.
Councilor Craig Rice called it a racial justice issue, noting that during the pandemic, some colored families had to put their children in parking lots to go online to do their schoolwork. He said bringing 5G closer to these communities, “I think it’s right for us.” Councilor Gabe Albornoz added: “I think this is progress.”
However, councilors Will Jawando and Sidney Katz urged the council to postpone the vote until the federal district court in DC decides on challenges against 5G.
During previous meetings of the council committee, the amendment to the zoning plan was updated to reflect the concerns of some local residents. The change now allows these antennas to be placed 30 feet from a habitable building and, if possible, attached to an existing power pole or street lamp. If a new mast is required, it must not be higher than neighboring masts. If these conditions could not be met, a conditional use hearing would be required.
County Executive Marc Elrich made a statement that he was “disappointed that the majority of the council has not used the time since the November 2019 public hearing to gather best practices from other jurisdictions, reflecting the changing legal landscape at the FCC understand and work with local residents to address community concerns ”. . “
Any changes since the public hearing have increased community concerns, Elrich said. He specifically advised reducing the kickback from 60 feet to 30 feet for limited use. “There is no evidence that these adverse changes were necessary,” he wrote.
He questioned the urgency of the council in adopting the amendments, citing pending lawsuits on telecommunications masts and radio frequency standards.
Elrich renewed his request for a community working group to review the legislation.
In a newsletter following the council’s vote, Riemer wrote, “Montgomery County must take steps to build a stronger economic future. While we are debating whether 5G should be legal, other jurisdictions in the region have long moved forward. How are we supposed to compete for the employment growth of companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google or Amazon when we turn our backs on technological infrastructure? The answer is we can’t. Companies don’t want to be in a technological backwater. “
above Suzanne Pollak
Suzanne is a freelance reporter for Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years of professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters, and the Internet.