Wireless applicants do not have free reign over building their facilities wherever they desire to build them. Cities have discretion over small cell wireless facilities; however, their authority is shared with both federal and state agents.
State law authorizes cities and counties to deny applications for the right-of-way when the proposed facility would be an inconvenience to the public’s access of the right-of-way. Both federal and state law also have local management authority over the public right-of-way, which includes the authority to oversee installations.
Cities cannot deny wireless facility applications due to environmental impacts from RF emissions as long as the emissions are in compliance with all FCC regulations. Cities require applicants to show that the proposed facility will be in compliance with the FCC’s regulations.
The City Planning Office considers small cell applications for a use permit when received. The Planning Office has the authority to approve, approve with conditions or deny the permits. Federal law requires State and local governments to respond to applications within a reasonable amount of time, either 150, 90 or 60 days, depending on the nature of the application. The FCC imposes a tedious set of rules for handling incomplete applications. If the applications are denied, the denial must be in writing and the reasons for the denial must be supported by significant evidence.