Several area cities are taking steps to prepare for new wireless technology with Ohio law starting Aug. 1. FILE

Centerville, Kettering, Miamisburg among cities setting new cell tower standards

Suburban cities are setting standards for small cell phone towers as a law that allows those structures kicks in this week.

Centerville, Kettering, Miamisburg and Springboro are among the latest jurisdictions to approve guidelines and design standards for 5G mobile technology facilities, the subject of Ohio House Bill 478, which permits small cell wireless facilities throughout Ohio effective Aug. 1.

The 5G technology is expected to be “significantly faster” than current service, according to those in the industry.

The towers will be more visible to the public “due to the increased numbers and to generally being located on city or utility poles along the streets,” according to Brian Humphress, executive director of the Miami Valley Communications Council.

“The biggest concern with 5G construction was the potential impact on public safety and local community aesthetics,” he added.

Thus, cities are restricting the locations and the dimensions of the new structures, as well as approving other guidelines. Miamisburg, for example, has passed measures requiring future utilities to be buried in some areas like Main Street, said City Planner Ryan Homsi.

“While this is not a bad technology, a big focus of our ordinance — as well as several other local communities — is ensuring the cities have the ability to push small cells out of areas where no above-ground utilities are currently present,” he said.

Companies will be “encouraged,” Homsi said, to have new towers in alleys or in public parking lots “which we have spread throughout the downtown area.”

The city’s ordinance — which was “based heavily on a draft that was prepared by the city of Kettering,” Homsi said — limits the height of the new towers to 40 feet.

He said Miamisburg’s standards are based “on ensuring that any small cells installed in the community are sensitive to the surrounding built environment.”

The city’s guidelines approved this month also include:

• New facilities must match “the surrounding built environment”

• New towers built in the right of way must be in line with existing towers

• New towers must be built to accommodate at least two small cells to encourage collocation

Small cell tower guidelines were approved by Kettering last week. It aimed to include the “least disruptive construction practices required and adding designated utility corridor provisions,” records show.

The 40-foot limit for new structures was also adopted by Centerville in guidelines approved in June. That city will also require that new wireless structures be made of aluminum and be no wider than 12 inches, according to the new guidelines.

In addition, “the city shall reserve the right to propose an alternate location … of a new wireless support structure, provided the alternate location is within 100 feet or a distance equal to the width of the right of way in or on which the new wireless support structure is proposed, whichever is greater,” according to Centerville’s ordinance.

Kettering Assistant City Manager Steve Bergstresser gave drafts of that city’s proposal to utility companies that requested them. Meanwhile, Miamisburg has found in discussions with providers “there seems to be a willingness to cooperate with our goals downtown and in other areas of the city,” Homsi said.