MEDINA — A new generation of wireless communication antennas will be coming to cities around Ohio, including Medina.
Substitute House Bill 478, which Gov. John Kasich signed May 2, amends Ohio’s law regarding small cell antennas in the right-of-way. Such antennas will be used to support 5G cellphone technology, versus 3G and 4G technology in use now.
City Council passed two ordinances by emergency clause Monday to make sure new guidelines are in place before the law goes into effect Aug. 1.
The ordinances will prohibit any new cellphone towers around the city’s historic square — not the entire Historic District, just the four blocks that make up the square.
Also, if a cellphone company has three violations, the city wants its permit revoked.
“Three strikes and they are out,” Council President John Coyne said.
Medina Law Director Greg Huber said the ordinances give the city some ability to regulate the design and placement of small cell towers in historic districts, which is allowed under the House bill.
“It’s very important to maintain the character of our square,” Coyne said. “It’s important enough to the community to protect the look of the square as we’ve developed it without having an outside influence changing the character.”
Attorney R. Todd Hunt, of Walter Haverfield LLC, is working with the city on the new guidelines.
He said Substitute H.B. 478 replaced Senate Bill 331 concerning wireless antennas.
“(S.B. 331) was draconian,” Hunt said. “It placed a lot of obligations on local municipalities only to accept small cell facilities throughout your community and to permit those installations on city-owned poles.”
During the negotiation period between September 2017 and February of this year, provisions in S.B. 331 were scaled back, giving municipalities more authority about design and placement, he said.
The two ordinances Council passed Monday are a response to that, Hunt said.
“It’s critical that these get in place before the end of the month,” he said.
Everything but the antenna itself will be put underground, Hunt said. The antennas can be attached to light poles, street light structures and other poles in the right-of-way.
Council can’t stop the antennas from being installed, but they are hoping to prohibit them in the area of the square.
“It’s worth trying and to see what happens,” Hunt said.
“Let’s push the envelope and see what we can restrict,” Ward 1 Councilwoman Laura Parnell-Cavey said. “All they can say is no.”
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.