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ACT NO. 94

(H.616)

Wireless Telecommunications Facilities; Act 250; Planning and Zoning

This act addresses the siting of wireless telecommunications facilities in the state. On the state level, the act requires the environmental board to maintain a map that shows the location of all wireless telecommunications facilities in the state, and it defines telecommunications facilities so as to reflect existing Act 250 jurisdiction. Regarding the regional level, current law requires that a regional plan shall include a utility and facility element consisting of existing and proposed public or privately owned facilities and activities of various types, with recommendations to meet future needs for those facilities, and with indications of priority of need. This act adds "wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements" to the list of facilities that must be addressed in the regional plan's utility and facility element.

On a municipal level, the act adds provisions to the list of powers a municipality may exercise by ordinance of the legislative body, and it adds provisions to basic planning and zoning enabling authority created in chapter 117 of Title 24. In the first instance, the act enables municipalities, by ordinance, to regulate the construction, alteration, development and decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements, where the city, town or village has not adopted zoning or where those activities are not regulated pursuant to a duly adopted zoning bylaw. These ordinances, which are not intended to prohibit seamless coverage of wireless services, may include requirements that security be posted sufficient to finance decommissioning of facilities.

Within the zoning chapter, the act allows municipalities to adopt procedures to require an applicant to pay for reasonable costs of an independent review of an application, and it empowers the bylaws to provide for decommissioning or dismantling of telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements. It also allows municipalities that have begun a process to adopt or amend regulations relating to the siting of these facilities to establish a moratorium, for a limited period of time, on issuing of permits for these facilities. A moratorium may last for no more than 180 days, and authority to adopt a moratorium shall expire on June 30, 1999. Applications pending as of the date of adoption of a moratorium shall be entitled to a permit only when the applicant meets the requirements of the regulations as they exist at the termination of the moratorium. The act requires the attorney general, if requested by a municipal legislative body, to intervene to defend the lawfulness of the town's authority to impose a moratorium.

Effective Date: April 15, 1998