Telecommunication Zoning Review
A telecommunication tower is any structure that is designed and constructed primarily for the purpose of supporting one or more antennas, including self-supporting lattice towers, guy towers, or monopole towers. The term encompases personal wireless service facilities, radio and television transmission towers, microwave towers, common-carrier towers, cellular telephone towers or personal communications services towers, alternative tower structures, and the like.
Section XIII-1 of the Urbana Zoning Ordinance establishes general guidelines for the siting of wireless communications, radio and television towers, and antennas and general requirements for towers.
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Administratively Approved Uses:
1. General. The following provisions shall govern the issuance of administrative approvals for towers and antennas.
a) The Zoning Administrator or his or her designee may administratively approve the uses as provided in this Article.
b) Each applicant for administrative approval shall apply to the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee providing the information required in this Article and a nonrefundable fee as established by ordinance of City Council to reimburse the City or Urbana for the costs of reviewing the application.
c) The Zoning Administrator or his or her designee shall review the application for administrative approval and determine if the proposed use complies with the terms of this Article.
d) The Zoning Administrator or his or her designee shall respond to each such complete application within 30 days after receiving it by either approving or denying the application. If the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee fails to respond to the applicant within said 30 days, then the application shall be deemed approved.
e) In connection with any such administrative approval, the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee may, in order to encourage shared use, administratively waive any zoning district setback requirements or separation distances between towers by up to 50%.
f) In connection with any such administrative approval, the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee may, in order to encourage the use of monopoles, administratively allow the reconstruction of an existing tower to monopole construction.
g) If an administrative approval is denied, the applicant may file an appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals as provided for in the Urbana Zoning Ordinance.
2. List of Administratively Approved Uses. The Zoning Administrator, or his or her designee, may approve the following uses after conducting an administrative review:
a) Antennas or towers located on property owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the City of Urbana, greater than 250 feet from any residential zoning district or land use, provided a license or lease authorizing such antenna or tower has been approved by the City or Urbana and provided there is compliance with this article.
b) Locating a tower or antenna, including the placement of additional buildings or other supporting equipment used in connection with said tower or antenna, in the IN-1, Light Industrial/Office, IN-2 Heavy Industrial, or B-3, General Business districts and greater than 250 feet from any residential zoning district or land use.
c) Locating antennas on existing structures or towers consistent Section XIII-1.Q.3.(d).
3. Antennas on existing structures. Any antenna which is not attached to a tower may be approved by the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee as an accessory use to any commercial, industrial, professional, institutional, or multi-family structure of eight or more dwelling units, greater than 35 feet provided:
a) The antenna does not extend more than 35 feet above the highest point of the structure;
b) The antenna complies with all applicable Federal Communications Commission and Federal Aviation Administration regulations; and
c) The antenna complies with all applicable Building Codes.
4. Antennas on existing towers. An antenna which is attached to an existing tower may be approved by the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee and, to minimize adverse visual impacts associated with the proliferation and clustering of towers, collocation of antennas by more than one carrier on existing towers shall take precedence over the construction of new towers, provided such collocation is accomplished in a manner consistent with the following:
a) A tower which is modified or reconstructed to accommodate the collocation of an additional antenna shall be of the same tower type as the existing tower, unless the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee allows reconstruction as a monopole.
1) An existing tower may be modified or rebuilt to a taller height, not to exceed 30 feet over the tower’s existing height, to accommodate the collocation of an additional antenna.
2) The height change referred to herein may only occur one time per communication tower.
3) The additional height referred to herein shall not require an additional distance separation as set forth herein. The tower’s pre-modification height shall be used to calculate such distance separations.
c) On-site location.
1) A tower which is being rebuilt to accommodate the collocation of an additional antenna may be moved onsite within 50 feet of its existing location.
2) After the tower is rebuilt to accommodate collocation, only one tower may remain on the site.
3) A relocated on-site tower shall continue to be measured from the original tower location for purposes of calculating separation distances between towers as provided herein. The relocation of a tower hereunder shall in no way be deemed to cause a separation distance.
4) The on-site relocation of a tower which comes within the separation distances to residential units or residentially zoned property shall only be permitted with approval by the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee.
5. Installing a cable microcell network through the use of multiple low-powered transmitters/receivers with antennas which are no more than 24 inches in height attached to poles, light standards, existing wireline systems, such as conventional cable or telephone systems, or similar technology that does not require the use of towers.
Special Use Permits:
1. Uses Requiring Special Use Permit.
a) Antennas with towers on City-owned and controlled property if tower location is less than 250 feet from residential land use or zoning.
b) Antennas with towers in any Zoning District, except R-6B, B-3, B-3U, or IN-1.
c) Antennas with towers in the IN-1, Light Industrial/ Office, IN-2 Heavy Industrial, or B-3 General Business Zoning Districts if towers are less than 250 feet from residential land use or zoning.
d) Equipment enclosures in any Zoning District, except R-6B, B-3, B-3U, IN-1 or IN-2, which are not located on an existing structure as allowed herein and if the enclosure is less than 100 feet
2. The following provisions shall govern the recommendations of the Plan Commission and the issuance of special use permits for towers or antennas by the Urbana City Council:
a) If the tower or antenna is not a permitted use under this Article or permitted to be approved administratively pursuant to this Article, then a special use permit shall be required for the construction of a tower or the placement of an antenna in all zoning districts.
b) Applications for special use permits under this Article shall be subject to the procedures and requirements of Article VII of the Zoning Ordinance, except as modified in the Article.
c) In granting a special use permit, the Plan Commission may impose conditions to the extent the Plan Commission concludes such conditions are necessary to minimize any adverse effect of the proposed tower on adjoining properties.
d) Any information of an engineering nature that the applicant submits, whether civil, mechanical, or electrical, shall be certified by a structural engineer licensed by the State of Illinois.
e) An applicant for a special use permit shall submit the information required herein and a non-refundable fee as established by ordinance of the City Council to reimburse the City of Urbana for the costs of reviewing the application.
f) Residential District Term Limitations. Every ordinance granting approval of a special use permit for a personal wireless services antenna or antenna support structure in a residential district may provide that:
1) Where the provider of personal wireless services is not the owner of the land on which such antenna or structure is located, the term of the special use permit is limited to the term of the lease or other agreement granting rights to use the land; and
2) The Special Use shall be subject to review by the City Council, at five year intervals, to determine whether the technology in the provision of personal wireless services has changed such that the necessity for the Special Use at the time of its approval has been eliminated or modified, and whether the special use permit should be modified or terminated as a result of any such change.
a) Required Submittals. In addition to any information required for applications for special use permits pursuant to Article VII of the Zoning Ordinance, applicants for a special use permit for a tower shall submit the following information:
1) A scaled site plan clearly indicating the location, type and height of the proposed tower, on-site land uses and zoning, adjacent land uses and zoning (including when adjacent to other municipalities), Master Plan classification of the site and all properties within the applicable separation distances set forth in this Article, adjacent roadways, proposed means of access, setbacks from property lines, elevation drawings of the proposed tower and any other structures, topography, parking, and other information deemed by the Zoning Administrator or his or her designee to be necessary to assess compliance with this ordinance.
2) Legal description of the parent tract and leased parcel or subdivision or survey plat (if applicable).
3) The setback distance between the proposed tower and the nearest residential unit, platted residentially zoned properties, and un-platted residentially zoned properties.
4) The separation distance from other towers described in the inventory of existing sites submitted pursuant to this Article shall be shown on an updated site plan or map. The applicant shall also identify the type of construction of the existing tower(s) and the owner/operator of the existing tower(s), if known.
5) A landscape plan showing specific landscape materials.
6) Method of fencing and finished color and, if applicable, the method of camouflage and illumination.
7) A description of compliance with this Article and all applicable federal, state, or local laws.
8) A notarized statement by the applicant as to whether construction of the tower will accommodate collocation of additional antennas for future users.
9) Identification of the entities providing the backhaul network for the tower(s) described in the application and other cellular sites owned or operated by the applicant in the municipality.
10) A description of the suitability of the use of existing towers, other structures or alternative technology not requiring the use of towers or structures to provide the services to be provided through the use of the proposed new tower.
11) A description of the feasible location(s) of future towers or antennas within the City of Urbana based upon existing physical, engineering, technological or geographical limitations in the event the proposed tower is erected.
4. Factors Considered in Granting Special Use Permits for Towers. In addition to any standards for consideration of special use permit applications pursuant to Article VII of the Zoning Ordinance, the Plan Commission and City Council shall consider the following factors when recommending that the City Council waive or reduce the burden on the applicant of one or more of these criteria if the Plan Commission concludes that the goals of this ordinance are better served thereby:
a) Height of the proposed tower;
b) Proximity of the tower to residential structures and residential district boundaries;
c) Nature of uses on adjacent and nearby properties;
d) Surrounding topography;
e) Surrounding tree coverage and foliage;
f) Proposed ingress and egress; and
g) Availability of suitable existing towers, other structures, or alternative technologies not requiring the use of towers or structures, as discussed in this Article.
5. Availability of Suitable Existing Towers, Other Structures, or Alternative Technology. No new tower shall be permitted unless the applicant demonstrates to the reasonable satisfaction of the Plan Commission and City Council that no existing tower, structure, or alternative technology exists that does not require the use of towers or structures or alternative technology. Evidence submitted to demonstrate that no existing tower, structure, or alternative technology can accommodate the applicant’s proposed antenna may consist of any of the following:
a) No existing towers or structures are located within the geographic area which meet the applicant’s engineering requirements.
b) Existing towers or structures are not of sufficient height to meet the applicant’s engineering requirements.
c) Existing towers or structures do not have sufficient structural strength to support the applicant’s proposed antenna and related equipment.
d) The applicant’s proposed antenna would cause electromagnetic interference with the antenna on the existing towers or structures, or the antenna on the existing towers or structures would cause interference with the applicant’s proposed antenna.
e) The fees, costs, or contractual provisions required by the owner in order to share an existing tower or structure or to adapt an existing tower or structure for sharing are unreasonable.
f) The applicant demonstrates that there are other limiting factors that render existing towers and structures unsuitable.
g) The applicant demonstrates that an alternative technology that does not require the use of towers or structures, such as a cable microcell network using multiple low-powered transmitters/receivers attached to a wireline system, is unsuitable.
6. Security Fencing. Towers shall be enclosed by security fencing not less than six feet in height and shall also be equipped with an appropriate anti-climbing device; provided however, that the Plan Commission may recommend or the City Council may waive such requirements, as it deems appropriate.
7. Landscaping. The following requirements shall govern the landscaping surrounding towers for which a special use permit is required; provided however, that the Plan Commission may recommend or the City Council may waive such requirements if the goals of this ordinance would be better served thereby.
a) Tower facilities shall be landscaped with a buffer of plant materials that effectively screens the view of the tower compound from property used for residences. The standard buffer shall consist of a landscaped strip at least four feet wide outside the perimeter of the compound.
b) In locations where the visual impact of the tower would be minimal, the Plan Commission may recommend and the City Council may waive the landscaping requirement.
c) Existing mature tree growth and natural landforms on the site shall be preserved to the maximum extent possible. In some cases, such as towers sited on large, wooded lots, natural growth around the property perimeter may provide a sufficient buffer.