WARSAW — The City of Warsaw held a special Board of Works session this morning, April 28 to discuss legislative that was passed less than a week ago. Senate Bill 213 allows wireless support structures to be placed in public rights-of-way without approval or permits from the city involved.
Small cell networks are technology that provides coverage and capacity both indoors and out. They have become an important part of wireless networks and are appearing more and more.
The senate bill created a May 1 deadline for cities to designate underground utility areas, leaving very little time for municipalities to react to the bill. Warsaw officials worked quickly to ensure that the a resolution was created and a meeting held within the time restraints.
The board approved a last minute resolution that would protect homeowners and businesses from having this technology placed wherever the company chooses. The resolution establishes an underground and buried utility district, meaning that this technology can only be added to existing poles in the city.
“I will say that this technology is critical technology. It’s very important,” said Warsaw Mayor Joseph Thallemer. “Our concern is where these things are going to be placed. We felt like we had to act.”
Warsaw City Planner Jeremy Skinner expressed frustration over the bill. “The real intent is to tell us that our right-of-way is not for our review.” Because of the bill, city officials will be responsible for informing homeowners if the technology is being built near them. The city will also be responsible for the engineering costs of ensuring that existing poles could handle the weight of the equipment.
The resolution was approved unanimously. The Senate Bill must still be signed by Governor Holcomb in order to become law. It’s expected that he will sign the bill on May 1, leaving municipalities literally no time to take action if they wait.
Warsaw isn’t alone in its objection and quick action against this bill. According to Accelerate Indiana Municipalities, around 100 municipalities are creating similar resolutions in regards to this legislation.