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Loveland council advised not to establish health-based wireless antenna regulations

LOVELAND — Loveland’s City Council was advised to take no actions to regulate setbacks for small cell wireless antenna placements.

The council has heard complaints for months from a group that believes that small cell wireless antennas can have detrimental health effects. The topic first arose after a wireless facility was installed on the top of the Artspace apartments near downtown.

But according to attorney Ken Fellman, who was retained by the city to advise the council and its boards and commissions on the topic, the city has limited authority to regulate placement of such facilities.

He reported that the federal government has determined that it is “appropriate to let people speak to the issues but also appropriate to tell them that local government has limited authority to regulate,” he said.

Brieana Reed-Harmel, who directs the Pulse internet utility, was designated by the city to gather information and to consider a 250-foot setback from residential locations for small cell antennas. She reported that a 250-foot setback would eliminate placement of such antennas in nearly the entire city. By reducing the setback distance to 50 feet, placements would still be eliminated in more than half the city.

“Setbacks, as requested to be investigated by (the) City Council, would ‘effectively prohibit’ and ‘materially inhibit’ a provider’s ability to engage in telecommunications activities in Loveland,” Reed-Harmel reported. All the boards that considered the issue recommended against setbacks, she said.

Speakers at the council meeting expressed frustration that the council could not force setbacks for health reasons because the Federal Communications Commission prohibits local governments from doing so. 

Council member Dana Foley suggested establishing a voluntary registry of people sensitive to electromagnetic radiation that could be shared with cell service providers in hopes of getting cooperation from them.

David Goldberg said that the report Tuesday night is not the end of the process but the start of the process. He asked the council to incorporate whatever changes that they can legally establish. He also asked for periodic testing of electromagnetic waves to determine if there are health effects.

Source: BizWest