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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Milton may ease cell tower restrictions.

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The City of Milton is poised to back away from portions of its newly revised cell tower ordinance.

The Milton City Council will consider placing a moratorium on fees and annual registration requirements for telecommunications companies operating cell towers. The city's ordinance was revised last August following a five-month moratorium on all new cell tower construction.

The ordinance calls for a more detailed application process and more restrictive policies regarding location and height of cell towers, primarily for aesthetic purposes. It also requires companies pay a $2,000 application fee, plus actual consulting costs up to $7,500.

In addition, companies will pay an operating license fee of $1,000 per tower and $1,000 per antenna array. Finally, the city charges a $250 legal processing fee and $50 administrative fee for lease applications.

Representatives from AT&T, Verizon Wireless and the Georgia Wireless Association opposed the fees insisting the companies could perform and certify many of the administrative functions.

Telecom companies have hinted they might pursue legal action to ease some of Milton's restrictions, City Attorney Ken Jarrard said. The city based much of its revised ordinance on a similar measure passed in Liberty County, which has since been sued over the restrictions.

"We thought it might be prudent to see how that litigation concludes before proceeding," Jarrard said.

Milton already faces a suit filed by T-Mobile last year after the city denied two of three applications for new cell tower construction. The third tower was approved with conditions.

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