Not every ordinance drafted will work with the laws of every state. Every state has its own laws and requires some adaptation. Some states have taken away local zoning rights, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
We have prepared a model ordinance for Massachusetts, which took a very long time! To make this ordinance, we looked at the Massachusetts ordinances, ordinances in other states, suggestions given by others, and looked at federal and state laws. If you would like a copy, contact us by email tp coordinate (see footer for email). We also have presentation materials to help put forward an ordinance.
In addition to the older list attached in the next accordion box, help with sample ordinances remains available online from others, as follows:
- 5G Free California - Hosted a great informational session and shared transcript on legal strategies, including valuable ordinance information called "Ask the Lawyers."
- Scientists4WiredTech dot com - Many ideas and some ordinances, mainly from CA, which has many strong ordinances - focused on ordinance development and thus has posted some discussions with lawyers and other helpful information;
- NCSL dot org - Search 5G to find a list of relevant state legislation;
- 5GCrisis dot com/toolkit - an ordinance template and supporting resources which can be submitted and modified - though not all ideas are incorporated that are put forward by ordinances in California, this may be good for a start;
- MDsafeTech dot org - search for a page on ordinances and scroll down for a helpful PDF of a "few key additions" for ordinances, summaries, concepts;
- EHtrust dot org - ordinance concepts, brief summaries;
- Massachusetts: Burlington was first to require an annual recertification process for cellular infrastructure. Cambridge has a more recent ordinance. Some MA cities with ordinance changes are listed on another page (scroll down).
- Other Municipalities - look in the news for towns which have passed the most recent, strongest ordinances and check the city clerks' page for the Municode or city code to see the ordinance.
Avoid the League of Cities or Verizon's model ordinances.
In addition, a tree ordinance is recommended in conjunction, to prevent trees from being removed just for 4G and 5G antenna construction or improved transmission.
Again, this is an older, outdated list, and has not been updated yet. This list is an outgrowth of discussions with many others, esp. in CA, and includes many ideas from the co-chair of Last Tree Laws Kirstin that were implemented in ordinances. Some ideas are just basic common sense.
See directly above for more ordiance information and examples.
Review your ordinance with your town lawyer, but be confident to assert your prerogative for health in the face of timidity or favoritism of industry. Some municipalities turn the cold shoulder and little can be done. Others listen. Other lawyers recommended include: Center for Municipal Solutions (good & okay reports, "not shills but not radical"); Mark Del Bianco (CA); Andrew Campanelli (NY, CA). Susan Brinchman of the Center for Electrosmog Prevention also recommended the following lawyer's work: Ariel Strauss, Esq., 2550 Ninth St, Suit 204B, Berkeley, CA, at GreenFireLaw dot com. Cityscape Consultants, Inc., supports government clients nation-wide, but be warned that Cityscape states that they seek to provide rather than hinder wireless.
1. Require bi-annual re-certification of wireless facility installations.
2. Make all permits conditional, so that they terminate if FCC rule is overturned, or if necessary for resolution of problem(s) meeting requirements, or complaint(s), or for any future necessity, without legal recourse for applicant [vi]; For example, include in the agreement a clause voiding the agreement or requiring its modification, in the event of a regulatory change (including the overturning of the Order).
3. Conditional permits issued for each small cell based on continual, independently documented meeting of contract obligations.
4. Claw-back Fees: Mechanism to provide for payback of additional fees provided that the FCC ruling is overturned, as suggested by NATOA.
5. Include fee for cost analysis.
Cease & Desist Orders and Breach of Contract
1. Cease and desist orders shall be sent for breach of contract, safety hazards, or to comply with accommodations for medical and health needs.
2. Failure to comply with any aspect of the contract by the wireless facility provider shall result in breach of contract.
3. If wireless facility fails to comply with requirements, then the wireless facility is to stop transmitting with the process completed within 12 hours, and the wireless transmitter(s) is to be removed.
4. Directions to cease and desist shall be sent to the wireless operator as soon as possible and at minimum within 12 hours to the relevant wireless facility owner. The wireless facility shall be monitored for compliance, including but not limited to 12 hours from notification. Unless circumstances require immediate removal, the wireless facility must then be removed as soon as possible and within three weeks.
Liability, Insurance, and Penalties
1. [Note: Wireless or electromagnetic exposures are not covered by insurance companies fairly universally, so you must expressly ask for a bond to cover those risks, or proof that the insurance company covers those risks].
2. Indexed to inflation, require minimum $6 million deposit or bond (separate from insurance) for each antenna or small wireless facility to cover any health or environmental effects from a single antenna or small wireless facility, whichever is less. [$6 million might help a few people--it is not that much.]
3. Provide automatic loss of above-mentioned environmental health bond or deposit for breach of contract, for which the remainder, after covering any costs necessary for wireless facility removal, shall benefit residents in the path of the wireless facility transmissions with a reasonable health or environmental claim and evidence of financial need.
4. Indexed to inflation, require deposit, bond, or proof of minimum $500K liability insurance per antenna or small wireless facility, whichever is less, for future adverse impacts and removal of obsolete infrastructure,
5. Provide for automatic payout of liability insurance in the event of breach of contract.
6. Similarly, for larger wireless facilities, require the same bond and insurance coverage for each antenna on the facility.
7. Indemnification clause: guarantee that if lawsuit results, wireless facility operator will assume all costs for municipality.
8. Deposit to cover fair value of all of the homes up to 1500 feet in all directions, to cover loss of value or failure to find a buyer due to proximity of wireless facility.
9. Consider setting penalty fees per each day of violation (see Hempstead, NY, ordinance)
Wireless Facility Application Requirements and Process
1. Non-refundable deposits on each cell at start of application.
2. Immediate denial of incomplete applications -- applicant can reapply but must pay fees again. It is not the town’s responsibility to guide wireless facility applicants, nor to point out missing elements.
3. Pay for costs of town all independent experts.
4. It should be FINE to enforce no close proximity, according to this evidence it is not needed. Verizon brags it can beam signals 3,000 feet. So residential poles not needed, nor are those in business areas. https://youtu.be/FwAsr1pC13Q
5. Demonstration of need and description of immediate necessity for installation. No installation for future uses. No application granted without a significant coverage gap in service. Require material proof of a gap and quantification of wireless coverage, precise expression of current coverage and capacity, and verification that antennas presently in operation by the corporation are positioned correctly and operating optimally. Document that wired services cannot cover the service instead. Note: No requirement exists in the law to provide for non-essential services, so question claims to do more than close the "gap" or to provide "capacity" for wireless video transmission, i.e. data intensive tasks.
6. Require wireless facility operator to appear in transcribed public hearings on record, under oath, to represent and prove in good faith that the technology is environmentally healthy & safe, that the wireless facility operator has conducted due diligence on health, that the site selected is necessary to provide service, that preferred siting or any other preferences will not work, that the site will comply with FCC and thermal limits, and that wired services cannot cover the gap or be provided instead. [The term good faith was used well by Sonoma City.]
7. Each application for a wireless facility shall include the total wireless build-out plan for the municipality, and address overall the questions listed above in public hearing and in application.
8. During public hearing, the wireless facility operator or legal knowledgeable representative shall have full ability to answer questions on all deployments in the municipality and the total plan build out for the municipality and nearby towns.
9. Within 1 day of application written notice of the wireless facility shall be provided to all residents living or working within 1500 feet of a proposed wireless facility. Notice shall be written clearly and include demonstration of need, purpose of the facility, fire risks, chemical risks, electrical risks, and health risks, as well as the range of frequencies, modulation, distance traveled, and the peak power level in the radius of the transmitter at intervals of 2, 5, 10, and 1500 feet to a reasonable degree of certainty. All residents will be notified, renters and owners.
10. Cover the costs of a qualified independent or municipal evaluator selected by the town for an initial calculation and, pending approval of a wireless facility, random electromagnetic (wireless and electric) testing a minimum of four times a year. Calculated in V/m and µw/cm2, notice shall include range of frequencies and the highest peak power level in the radius of the antenna at intervals of 2, 5, 10, and 1000 feet to a reasonable degree of certainty. Ensuing evaluations shall also measure electric and magnetic fields at intervals of 1, 2, 5, 10, and 15 feet, or until measurements drop below 1 milligauss (or equivalent in tesla).
11. As above, cover costs for analysis by qualified independent or municipal evaluator selected by town for evaluation of fire and electrical hazards, insuring poles are not overloaded.
12. Provide for costs of a town employee to oversee the process, including but not limited to wireless measurements and falling hazard reports.
13. Mock-ups of proposed projects. No use of helium, which goes into outer space when released.
14. Require proof of landowner's consent to installation of such equipment on their property (private rights of way), with evidence of previous informed consent regarding health and safety risks and potential liability.
15. Neither the town nor any town resident shall be denied a trial in state or federal court against this wireless facility operator for breach of contract, as this contract shall dismiss any prior or existing arbitration agreement to be permanently dismissed.
16. The clause to dismiss arbitration agreements shall extend to all affiliates and subsidiaries, and shall further be a component of the contract provided to clients of the wireless facility operator.
Additional Wireless Facility Contract Provisions
1. NEW from Scientists for Wired Tech: "The smartest move at this time to balance the needs of the Wireless companies and residents is by requiring Telecom Cos. to provide equipment that significantly reduces the amount of Effective Radiated Power (ERP) emitting from the face of the antenna shroud. vs. the specs in the current applications in the Dept. of Public Works files. Something like the following which can be accomplished via equipment specifications and simple, hardware-store fuses -- i.e. fuses that trigger shut-offs at at input power levels sufficient to generate more than 40 milliWatts of Effective Radiated power at the face of the antenna shroud). Here is some suggested "objective standards" language:"For any Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) that is (a) installed in the public rights-of-way, (b) attached to any building , or (c) has antennas installed at a height that is lower than 100 feet off the ground, . . . the Wireless Carrier must install only antennas, radios and other supporting equipment that have no chance of exceeding a total of X milliwatts of Effective Radiated Power(ERP) from the face of the antenna shroud, for all of the equipment operating at or connected to this WTF." . . . where X is defined by the City’s due diligence that defines the minimum ERP needed to provide three to five bars on a cell phone for telecommunications service at 2,500 feet away from the antenna. Note that this is aligned with Verizon’s stated goals in a May, 2018 CNBC interview and Verizon marketing video: As I showed you in the spreadsheet, Don 40 MilliWattts emitting at the face of the antenna shroudis all that is needed for Telecommunication service at 1/2 mile from the small cell antenna."
2. Require a master clause stating all must comply with current environmental laws in the town, state, and nation: "In securing permits pursuant to this section, Licensee shall comply with all applicable environmental laws including, without limitation, town and state laws.
3. Require permits for work on wireless facilities.
4. If the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is overturned, then all installations are to be removed.
5. Zoning: Prohibit in residential and ecologically vulnerable areas. Require historic considerations.
6. Zoning: Prohibit near schools, hospitals, and in commercial districts near multi-family homes.
7. Acquiescence for full compliance with rights to liberty and life, to full and equal access to public buildings, thoroughfares, workplaces, and residences, to all members of the public, including, but not limited to, those disabled and those with medical conditions sensitive to wireless radiation, including electromagnetic sensitivity.
8. Grant accommodation requests as soon as possible and at minimum within 12 hours.
9. Require removal of obsolete or broken equipment; insure new equipment is not installed without repeating the permitting process.
10. The wireless facility provider shall not exceed FCC or thermal limits, for example: All installations shall be physically installed and aligned so as to ensure that FCC Limits for Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) for radiofrequencies(RF)are not exceeded, per 47 C.F.R. § 1.1310; All application requirements listed below shall be evaluated and signed by one or more of the following, if applicable: Licensed Architect, Licensed Contractor, Licensed Engineer, and/or Licensed Surveyor; RF Emissions: Applicants shall submit a radiofrequency radiation study (prepared by a licensed engineer qualitied to evaluate radiofrequency emissions) which estimates the proposed project's radiofrequency emissions, demonstrating compliance of the proposed facility with applicable FCC policies, standards, and guidelines for MPE to radiofrequency radiation emissions;
11. Require yearly reports on exposures, for example: Prior to July 1 of every calendar year, each provider shall submit documentation identifying the location of each --- in the right-of-way. The documentation shall include --- that are approved, but not yet built, --- that are currently operating, and locations containing non-operating ---. As part of this annual report, an RF emissions report must be provided for all approved, built, and operating ----.
12. Facilities in the right of way that would interfere with future projects must be relocated.
13. The wireless facility provider shall warrant that wireless and all electromagnetic emissions from the wireless facility are safe; that electromagnetic emissions do not present an environmental health threat; that the wireless facility operator has conducted due diligence regarding potential environmental health threats; that the site selected is necessary to prevent gaps in service; that wired services cannot effectively cover the gap instead.
14. Include a provision to amend contract to clarify aesthetic and safety requirements
Construction of Small Wireless Facilities
1. There shall be a blanket ban on permitting during winter months from December through March for work in the public rights of way for safety purposes (due to wintry weather).
2. Provide for environmental protection, such as by stating "will not allow for the development of any ... facility anywhere other than where previously allowed under existing federal, state, and local regulations." (See Sonoma City, CA, ordinance)
3. Only existing poles which can withstand the weight may be used.
4. Space between small cells or small wireless facilities must be at least 3000 feet.
5. No co-location on the same utility poles.
6. Ground-mounted equipment that can’t be installed inside the pole placed flush underground within three feet of the pole.
7. Require new wires installed within the circumference of the existing pole and not to add any height to it.
8. Distance from the small cells to occupied buildings (setbacks) at least 1000 feet in any direction. Include certification of distance of falling hazard in addition to side or yard zoning setbacks.
9. Distance between small cells at least 2500 feet (transmissions travel 1500 feet at least)
10. No small wireless facilities in residential areas or vulnerable locations.
11. Fence & screen facilities from view, excepting signage (see Hempstead, NY, ordinance).
12. Use of rust-resistant fluorescent yellow paint to clearly identify transmitter and equipment. Fluorescent color shall be neatly applied and fully cover without splattering on or damaging other town property.
Construction of All Wireless Facilities
1. Residential zones - no wireless facilities.
2. No disturbance of plants including trees and bushes. No trimming or cutting, no disturbance of leaves, trunk, or roots.
3. Must be located at least 500 feet from all existing trees or plants, due to fire risk.
4. No facilities next to schools, hospitals, senior centers, medical offices or clinics. Setbacks of 3,000 feet from any school or medical facility.
5. No location within 5000 feet of endangered or threatened species.
6. No lighting except as required by law.
7. No location with a falling hazard onto a building or structure.
8. Cover costs of independent engineering and electrical review, with an engineer selected and approved by municipality. Prior to any installation a structural analysis should be completed to ensure the pole can handle the additional equipment and following construction a structural analysis should be conducted to affirm that completed construction is structurally sound and free of electrical risks.
9. No location with an exceptional fire hazard.
10. Two-sided large yellow 2x3 foot sign by each transmitting facility with information in both Spanish and English on both sides. Sign shall clearly and legibly note potential fire, falling, electrical, and health risks, with full and up-to-date emergency contact information, wireless facility owner legal names and addresses (including board members, CEO, partners), and company names, address, amount of bond, amount of insurance coverage, name of insurance company. Three smaller signs (9-12”) shall provide images to indicate electrical & poison hazard.
11. The telco must apply a shield to rear, sides, and bottom of antenna if nearby homeowners or owners of buildings don't want emissions aimed at their yard, home, or building. Shield must be demonstrated to deter emissions 100%, and shall be provided by the municipality or independent contractor working for the municipality, and funded by the telco.
12. Sprinkler or other other automatic system for each pole provided by wireless company, designed to put out fires if cell catches fire.
13. Acoustic analysis report (apparently required in Sonoma, CA, ordinance) to insure not a nuisance. Must be entirely silent. No noise must be heard at all from small cells/wireless. Includes buzzing perceived by neighbors, and ringing of ears perceived by any person from frequencies.
14. Lighting shall be unobtrusive and respectful of circadian rhythms and views of the night sky.
15. Require fencing for equipment cabinets
16. Require fencing around wireless facility in any area potentially reaching or exceeding FCC limits.
Town Procedures to Set in Place:
1. Establish a wireless subcommittee, including residents and planning commission members to review the municipal ordinance, regulations, and policy.
2. Include a process for public Planning Commission/Board hearings of applications, rather than Zoning Administrator/staff hearings due to shortened shot clock.
3. Identify staff person to manage incoming applications.
4. Track expenses to recover costs of managing, reviewing, negotiating, inspecting, licensing, leasing, monitoring, monitoring equipment, and planning so as to cover costs.
5. Accommodation requests shall be placed on file, lead to a cease and desist order, and receipt and action confirmed by letter to the requestor. An accommodation request shall include proof of a relevant medical condition or a letter from a medical doctor stating a need for accommodation.
6. Insure approval process remains under control of an elected body
7. Secure town files for registering all wireless facilities, including a up-to-date and easily accessible emergency contact information and including full legal information for a lawsuit, including full name and address of wireless facility owners, board members, partners, etc. Registration information shall be available to public information.
8. Secure town files with registration and wireless facility measurement reports, to be kept for available for three decades.
9. City webpage with a map showing all existing and proposed wireless facilities in the city, alongside full registration and names and addresses for filing a lawsuit. Proposed cell towers go on map same day of application and registration information shall be provided online within two weeks. A sample wireless page can be seen for the city of Monterey, California.
10. City webpage providing measurements for existing wireless facilities.
11. Newly received applications shall be posted by staff to the city/county webpage no later than 6 pm of same day of receipt.
12. Public notice and hearings for all wireless applications; no exemptions for public-right-of way (PROW) projects.
13. Provide for professional equipment, annual recalibration, and random, frequent measurements of wireless facilities in V/m; µw/cm2; dBm; and tesla that are independent of wireless interests as well as of other financially invested parties. Note that the FCC does not monitor, at least 1% of cell towers were out of compliance, and smaller wireless facilities are expected to exceed FCC limits. Power levels may be remotely raised for commercial advantage, and lowered for the purpose of "measurements."
14. Identify contractor or qualified engineering employee, an individual not financially influenced, to evaluate whether facilities pose a falling hazard.
15. Identify employee or employees to oversee project, including supervising measurements or falling hazard reports or checking for electrical/fire hazards.
16. Set fees, such as for nonrefundable deposit
17. Identify a mechanism for public hearings to occur under oath and be transcribed for the purpose of wireless facility hearings.
18. Set a blanket ban on permitting during winter months for work in public right of way for safety purposes. This may be a bona fide reason to reject wireless facility applications in the winter months.
19. Encourage residents to get a full health check before wireless facilities are constructed, and then 3-6 months and 12 months afterwards, and to use small claims courts for remediation of homes or to cover costs of any expenses associated with wireless facilities.
20. Define adequate coverage (see Warren, CT ordinance below).
21. Set up a list of preferred siting (see Hempstead, NY ordinance)
22. Resolve and endorse a policy of reducing wireless usage and preferring hard-wired connections in all public buildings. If in MA, let Last Tree Laws know so we can post the information.
23. Contact your legislation to support state and federal legislation to hard-wire (see our MA state & federal legislation for examples). If in MA, join and support Last Tree Laws.
Recertification & Compliance
1. Prior installations of small cells. Any installed small-cells approved prior to enactment of this ordinance, will be subject to these terms upon recertification of the equipment. The permitee will have 14 days to complete any necessary modifications to be in compliance under these zoning regulations.
2. Semi-annual certified report. Twice yearly, the equipment owner shall submit a certified affidavit which shall list, by location, all small cell wireless installations it owns within the County by location, and shall certify: (1) each such installation that remains in use; (2) that such in use installations remain covered by insurance, (3) meets all requirements and (4) each such installation which is no longer in use
3. Annual fees.The equipment owner shall pay an annual re-certification fee of ___ per installation which remains in use
Fee Checklist for Town
• Track expenses to recover costs of managing, reviewing, negotiating, inspecting, licensing, leasing, monitoring, monitoring equipment, and planning so as to cover costs.
• Costs of filing registration, measurements, and posting information on website
• Costs of random measurements of wireless facilities
• Costs of town employee time to oversee project, including after installation
• Engineering approval reports (1 and 2)
Fee Checklist for Wireless Facility Operator
1. Indexed to inflation, minimum 6 million dollar deposit or bond for each antenna or small wireless facility to cover any health or environmental effects from a single antenna or small wireless facility, whichever is less
2. Indexed to inflation, require deposit, bond, or proof of minimum $500K liability insurance
3. Deposit to cover fair value of all of the homes up to 1500 feet in all directions
4. Non-refundable deposits on each cell at start of application
5. Mockup of proposed project
6. Cover costs of town employee time to oversee project.
7. Signage, sprinkler, fluorescent paint, undergrounding, and fencing
8. Engineering review (1) design
9. Engineering review (2) check construction
10. Provide notice to all within 1500 feet of proposed facility (does the municipality do this?)
11. Exposure calculation report
12. Ensuring monitoring by the town
13. Bi-annual recertification
StopSmartMeters dot org has a page listing many cities which have passed ordinances to prohibit smart meters in California (Stop Smart Meters is based in CA).
Search this phrase at StopSmartMeters dot org: CA Local Governments On Board
Trees are the beautiful lungs of the planet, and replacements of trees cut down usually fails to compare the breadth of the original tree or to forests.
Here are a few sample ordinances to help you construct a tree ordinance:
- Northampton, MA, has a shade tree ordinance and a public shade commission. Unless diseased, removal of significant trees — defined as trees with a minimum 20-inch diameter or specifically identified specimen trees — would have to be replaced following certain standards or money paid into a city account to fund new public shade trees.
- 6-inch Permit Ordinance: Atlanta, GA, requires permits for removal of any tree on city-owned property, regardless of size, or any tree of 6 inches or greater diameter-at-breast-height (dbh) on private property. More info online at AtlantaTreeCommission dot com.
- Nice Idea for Awards: Charlotte, NC, also annually presents Charlotte's Crown Tree Awards to recognize excellence in tree preservation, tree planting, and tree advisory.
Many more examples exist online regarding sample ordinances.
Berkeley has just recently settled, choosing not to go to Supreme Court!
When set before the US Supreme Court as industry claimed the ordinance violated its free speech, the US Supreme Court remanded to the lower court in light of recent bans on abortion disclosures, and the lower court just recently overturned Berkeley's ordinance as "overwarning." The ruling emphasized the FCC's opinion wireless is safe.
This was Berkeley's ordinance - Berkeley will keep this on the books until more favorable FCC rules exist:
The (town, city or county) of ______________ requires that you be provided the following notice:
"To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio-frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal safety guidelines for exposure to RF radiation."
Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.