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The Bel Air town commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance and three resolutions Monday to regulate small cell wireless facilities and utilities in public rights of way.

There were no comments from residents on the resolutions at the meeting.

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“These are facilities designed to provide smaller, more numerous structures in rights of way typically on existing facilities to provide 5G digital data for consumers, which provides greater speed,” Director of Planning Kevin Small said during a public hearing on the small cell ordinance.

The Bel Air commissioners introduced several pieces of legislation Monday that pertain to the installation of "small cell" wireless infrastructure in town rights-of-way. A public hearing will be March 18.

The ordinance is the town’s effort to standardize provision of the service, he said, while the three resolutions outline design of such facilities, fees to erect them and fines for violating regulations.

The design guidelines establish criteria for location, layout, finish and color of facilities in rights of way, Small said.

“It is the intention of the town to protect the character and appearance of the community by enacting this ordinance,” Small said.

It will encourage placement of wireless facilities in commercial and industrial areas or an arterial right-of-way not adjacent to a residential area or historic property. It discourages the equipment in residential areas and historically designated properties or on Main Street and Bond street between Eastern Avenue and Cressy Road.

It also regulates concealment of equipment and requires the owner to address vandalism, noise and maintenance. Vehicular and pedestrian access in rights of way must be maintained as does safety and suitable visibility on town streets and it encourages co-location of the facilities, Small said.

The application fee to install up to five small wireless facilities is $500, with a $100 fee for each facility beyond the initial five. There is a $1,000 minimum fee if an applicant wants to install a pole to support one or more facilities.

Also approved was an annual $270 minimum right-of-way access fee, payable once the equipment is installed and due each year on the anniversary of the installation.

The penalty for violating small cell regulations is a municipal infraction that carries a fine of $400 a day per violation.

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