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City Update on Verizon Small Cell Tower Applications

Posted on August 10, 2018


The City has negotiated an agreement with Verizon to allow for additional time for the City to review Verizon’s ten small cell tower applications.

Under the terms of the agreement, the seven (7) residential applications are immediately suspended.  The applications may only be reinitiated if Verizon notifies the City following the determination on the commercial applications, and no later than December 31, that it intends to reinitiate the applications. If Verizon does not reinitiate the processing of the residential applications by December 31, 2018, then the 7 residential applications are considered withdrawn and no longer valid.  If Verizon reinitiates the residential applications, then there would be another 90-day period for the technical evaluation, review, and consideration of these residential applications prior to a hearing before the Planning Commission.

The agreement outlines the timing for reviewing the applications.  The three (3) commercial applications will be reviewed first and are to be heard by the Planning Commission on Thursday, August 30th at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.  The public may also review and comment on these same three commercial applications that are posted on the City website at https://www.sonomacity.org/small-cell-towers/ as well as participate at the Planning Commission hearing by providing testimony at the hearing.  Email communication may be sent to cityhall@sonomacity.org.  Notice of the hearing on the three applications will be published in Friday’s Sonoma IT and be posted on the City’s web site to notify members of the community of the date, time, and place of the upcoming hearing.

The City has hired a telecommunications consultant to perform a technical evaluation of the 3 commercial small cell site applications and evaluate the conformity of the designs being proposed to the standards applicable under the Municipal Code, prior to a determination being made on the applications at the Planning Commission hearing.  If the residential applications move forward, a similar technical evaluation will be completed and a hearing on the residential applications will also be held.  In general, the technical evaluation will assess the need, siting, effects (including visual and noise effects), and operational capacity of the proposed facilities and support equipment.  Verizon is responsible under the Municipal Code to reimburse the City for the cost of the technical evaluation.

Commercial Applications (3 applications)

  • August 30—Planning Commission hearing on commercial applications
  • September 13 or 27—second Planning Commission hearing (if necessary)
  • November 30—Deadline for City Council final determination on any appeals

Residential Applications

  • Suspended without further action until a final determination on the commercial applications
  • December 31, 2018—Last day for Verizon to provide notice to reinitiate residential applications
  • 90 days after notice by Verizon to reinitiate the applications —Planning Commission makes determination on applications
  • 90 days after Planning Commission determination—City Council makes final determination on any appeals

The agreement gives the City of Sonoma additional time to review and consider the applications than would otherwise be allowed under Federal or State law.  The agreement results in all of the wireless applications still being subject to the City’s application, review, and hearing process as established under the Municipal Code and retains the City’s local review authority, subject to any restrictions which may be applicable under Federal law.  Specifically, Verizon has agreed to not assert the timing requirements under Federal or State law (i.e. shot clock) as long as final determination on the applications is made within the timelines outlined above.

For more information, please follow the City’s web page for the Small Cell Towers.

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