Public Hearing

(Imposes Cell Towers Near Homes-With No Minimum Setbacks!)

Sweeping amendments have drastically altered the scope and legislative intent of the original ZTA


The County Council worked very hard during the COVID-19 pandemic with an emphasis on transparency and communication to protect the health and safety of residents in ALL County neighborhoods.

Now, as we emerge from this Pandemic, we urge the entire Council to continue that spirit of leadership, communication, and transparency by conducting a new public hearing before the Council takes up formal consideration of ZTA 19-07, Telecommunications Towers ― Limited Use. The first hearing was more than 20 months ago.

Changes made by the PHED Committee in 2021 have drastically altered the scope and legislative intent of the original ZTA, and if enacted, those sweeping amendments will eviscerate resident and neighborhood zoning protections that the sponsors already seek to substantially diminish through the ZTA itself.

In its February 10, 2021 and March 10, 2021 meetings discussing ZTA 19-07, the PHED Committee made extreme changes that go far beyond the legislative language originally introduced that was the basis of the November 29, 2019 Public Hearing.

The scope and impact of these recent substantial changes appear to be intentional. During the 02/10/2021 PHED Committee meeting, at minute mark 1:26:25, ZTA Sponsor Councilmember Riemer said:

After this session, we’re going to be considering modifications, new ideas…I think this ZTA was crafted with a fairly pessimistic view about what Councilmembers would be
willing to support.

To illustrate how these 2021 amendments made by the PHED Committee are completely beyond the originally stated scope of the Zoning Ordinance as proposed:

  • Setbacks for Antennas on Existing Structures (Sec. 3.5.14.C. 2.e.iii.) have been reduced to just 30 feet from any residence (see the Committee’s 3/10/2021 discussion beginning at minute mark ~ 46 through 49:50); and,
  • The process that regulates replacement utility poles in Sec. 3.5.2.C.2.b. has essentially been nullified, presumably relying upon the February 10, 2021 Council Staff’s interpretation (see pp. 9-10 of the staff packet), whereupon changes also effectively revise existing regulations in all zones. This section in the current zoning ordinance provides more rigorous resident protections for setbacks, pole heights, aesthetics, and more.

Additionally, through the 2021 substantial changes, ZTA 19-07 now:

  • Diminishes the Limited Use minimum residential setback from 60 feet to 30 feet.
  • Deletes the 30-foot minimum setback standard, so that the Hearing Examiner may approve ANY setback reduction for a replacement pole or for an entirely new pole at a new site.
  • Allows completely new poles where no pole previously existed, and at this juncture what can only be called a “half-baked” process.
  • Drastically changes the height limits of poles, allowing them to go up to heights of 50 feet.
  • Prohibits residents living beyond 300 feet of the proposed site from public participation in the OZAH process.

These changes were made during the height of the Pandemic, when residents were not focused on the ZTA that was introduced, more than 20 months – almost two years - ago.

Given the substantial scope and complexities  of the changes to the original ZTA as introduced for the November 2019 public hearing, and the overwhelming opposition expressed to  ZTA 19-07 at that  hearing, this ZTA as amended by the PHED Committee during its March 10, 2021, meeting MUST BE GRANTED  a new public hearing.

Concerned Residents: Call and E-mail  Councilmembers Now!
phone * e-mail * tweet

Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz (ZTA 19-07 co-sponsor) 240-777-7959

Councilmember Andrew Friedson 240-777-7828

Councilmember Evan Glass 240-777-7966

Tom Hucker (Council President) 240-777-7960

Councilmember Will Jawando 240-777-7811

Councilmember Sidney Katz 240-777-7906

Councilmember Nancy Navarro 240-777-7968

Councilmember Craig Rice (ZTA 19-07 co-sponsor) 240-777-7955

Councilmember Hans Riemer (ZTA 19-07 Lead Sponsor) 240-777-7964

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich 240-777-2500

Posted by adminMC4T in Action Alerts