Hillsborough will hold its second town meeting next week to discuss wireless communications facilities and the town's aesthetic character.
In 2006, Hillsborough first adopted a wireless communications ordinance to regulate the location of wireless communications facilities in the town in a manner that recognizes the benefits of wireless communications technology while accommodating the values of the community. Specific points of the ordinance reduce visual effects of wireless communications facilities, preserve the rural character of the town, encourage co-location of facilities and locate facilities where impacts on the town's residents are minimized.
Since this ordinance was adopted, there have been many changes in the wireless industry, including the implementation of new technology and equipment, new legislation and court rulings, and direction from the Federal Communications Commission. In February 2012, Congress made a sweeping change to the Federal Telecommunications Act requiring that certain types of wireless projects be allowed by state and local governments. In light of these changes, the Hillsborough City Council adopted a moratorium on the processing of all wireless communication facilities in September. The moratorium allows the community and staff an opportunity to study the issue of how to properly balance wireless needs, infrastructure impacts and community aesthetics, and then to develop a new town wireless ordinance to reflect that balance.
In neighboring Burlingame, desires to regulate wireless communications facilities was a hot topic starting in the summer of 2011.
ExteNet submitted an antenna proposal to address gaps. That led to an long community process with a request by residents for a moratorium to study the issue and draft rules -- a request the city granted. New rules developed by the Wireless Telecommunications Working Group, which included residents and city officials, were adopted in 2012.
The moratorium also covered ExteNet's applications resulting in a lawsuit from the company claiming the city purposely delayed the applications. In February, the two sides were ordered to mediation. The suit is still in court.
Burlingame staff ultimately approved eight applications from ExteNet to attach wireless communication boxes to existing poles in the public right-of-way. Residents appealed that decision and the council agreed to uphold the appeal on six of the eight applications in April.
The council will meet 6 p.m. Monday, March 11 at Town Hall, 1600 Floribunda Ave.