State College

College Township updates wireless communications facilities ordinance

College Township Council at its meeting Thursday unanimously adopted the wireless communications facilities ordinance.

“There were some definitions and some … wording with the existing ordinance that didn’t comport with some of the federal legislation language. And so in order to make those corrections and to properly amplify what we wanted to do with the ordinance, we needed to make some changes to certain sections of the ordinance that dealt with those particular issues,” said township Manager Adam Brumbaugh.

It’s the third iteration of the ordinance within the past 18 months, he said.

Verizon Wireless filed a lawsuit against College Township on June 28 after council denied a communication facility plan from the company earlier that month. Verizon had sought to install an antenna array along Cortland Drive.

Some changes in the updated ordinance include the addition of definitions for “alternative wireless communications structure” and “wireless communications tower.”

The ordinance defines a wireless communications tower as “any structure built for the sole or primary purpose of supporting any Federal Communications Commission-licensed or authorized antennas and their associated facilities.”

Brumbaugh said the ordinance also updated the language pertaining to the stealth technology that is to be used when erecting some of these structures.

Verizon claimed in its lawsuit that the language requiring a facility be “virtually indistinguishable to the casual observer” is unconstitutionally vague.

The updated ordinance changed the phrase “to the casual observer” to “from the structure that it is mounted to.”

Brumbaugh said during the public hearing on the ordinance, Dave Kerr, who works for AT&T, had some concerns about the ordinance.

Kerr also works with a nonprofit organization — a coalition of wireless communication facility providers — that Brumbaugh said the township will likely sit down with to hear their concerns.

“They interpret some things a little differently,” Brumbaugh said.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz