City opposes state bill on cell phone towers

By Joe Lambe

The city council on Thursday passed a measure urging Gov. Jay Nixon to veto a bill that would give companies wide and broad latitude in putting up cell phone towers.

The city has not had problems in working out tower conditions but the bill would severely limit its input and power in the matter, said Councilman John Sharp.

House Bill 331 is modeled on legislation that cell phone companies are pushing in legislatures nationwide and easily got passed in Missouri’s general assembly.

Under it, cities could not evaluate cell phone applications on whether an alternative location is available, Sharp said, or whether attaching equipment to another tower or flag pole or something else is possible.

It also would limit a city’s ability to require fencing or other beautifying measures, he said, and forbid the city from imposing any “unreasonable” requirements at all, whatever that may be.

Most outrageous of all, he said, it would not allow the city to require a company to tear down old cell phone towers no longer in use unless the city also made that requirement for all other businesses, like those that own abandoned buildings.

Sharp noted that many newspapers have editorialized against the law, including the Kansas City Star.

“There is no evidence that cities and counties in Missouri were making it unduly difficult to erect cell towers,” the Star editorial said. “House Bill 331 is simply a proactive move by corporate interests to have their way.”

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