Proposed cell phone tower legislation has made its way to the governor’s desk, and some county officials are concerned about its potential impact.
The state Senate and House of Delegates have passed Senate Bill 405, which now awaits Gov. Ralph Northam’s approval.
The bill, which is identical to House Bill 1258, focuses on zoning for cell phone structures.
“The wireless bill enables companies, like AT&T and T-Mobile, to install 50-foot long monopoles in the rights of way of state and county government without any permission by the locality, like the Board of County Supervisors here in Prince William,” said Prince William Board of County Supervisor (BOCS) Frank Principi.
If Northam signs the legislation, a significant number of cell phone towers could be built along Route 1, an idea that Principi finds concerning.
“This is at a time when we are undergrounding our utilities, demolishing blighted buildings and trying to increase property values,” he said.
Cell phone structures have been built in county right-of-way in the past.
According to Principi, several 50-foot poles were installed in Gainesville.
“Once we determined that was the case, Prince William County required that provider to uninstall — to remove — these 50-foot poles, and go through the local government process and to obtain community input into the location and siting of these poles,” Principi said.
The provider has, since then, gone through the process, paid the fees and obtained a special use permit.
The monopoles are now located in an area that community members and government officials are in agreeance with.