Wireless communication facilities are everywhere. In addition to wireless towers on private property, hundreds of thousands of new 5G wireless facilities are being installed in the public rights-of-way. Local governments play an essential role in ensuring the responsible deployment of wireless facilities, both through regulation, including zoning and permitting, and through leasing municipal property to wireless providers.
Federal law preserves local zoning authority over the construction and operation of wireless facilities. This authority, however, is subject to frequent changes in federal and state law. For example, the Federal Communications Commission recently issued new regulations that define the extent of local authority over wireless facilities. Many states have also recently passed laws that govern municipal management of wireless facilities. For example, in 2021 Pennsylvania enacted Act 50, the “Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.”
In the face of these new wireless technologies and new regulations, most municipal codes are outdated and out of compliance with current law. The attorneys at Cohen Law Group have helped more than 300 local governments draft or amend their wireless ordinances to address these new technologies, incorporate new changes in law and protect residents and businesses. They have also drafted design guidelines for wireless facilities to prevent the construction of unsightly facilities. We work with municipalities to strike a balance between expanding wireless broadband service and preserving the character of their communities.
The rapid deployment of wireless facilities has also created new revenue opportunities for municipalities. Municipalities act as “landlords” for wireless facilities in the rights-of-way and on municipal property. Attorneys at the Cohen Law Group have assisted municipalities in negotiating cellular tower and antenna leases with every national wireless provider. Our attorneys maximize revenues to municipalities and ensure that they are protected from problems that can arise from wireless facilities leasing. We do not represent any wireless companies.