Dexter Council Considers Small Cell Tower Permits

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This simulated photo of the cell tower planned for the corner of Alpine and Main streets will be designed to fit into the City’s streetscape, mainly in the style of the lamp posts. Image courtesy of TeleCAD Wireless.

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

At its October 11, 2021 meeting, the Dexter City Council was presented with two permit applications to construct two cell towers in the City.

The Applicant for both permits is Verizon Wireless. One request is for the northwest corner of Alpine and Main streets. The other is for Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd. at the Bluewater Center.

Small cell towers are generally about 40-feet tall and used in urban areas to strengthen wireless coverage where larger towers cannot be placed.

Last summer, the City of Dexter enacted an ordinance regulating small cell towers. However, even with regulations in place, the City’s control over telecommunication towers is limited. At the time, Community Development Manager explained the situation to the Council.

“Just prior to the COVID pandemic, the state enacted new laws that severely limit a municipalities’ rights to regulate and control the installation of the new small cell wireless devices with the City’s rights-of-way (ROW). Municipal groups and advocates have protested and initiated legal action to reinstate the rights of municipalities to control their own ROW. Those efforts, unfortunately, have not achieved the desired outcome. Thus, small cell wireless providers and wireless infrastructure providers have nearly unfettered access to municipal ROWs, including attachment of equipment to municipally-owned infrastructures, such as but not limited to light poles and the ability to install new poles.”

Ms. Aniol then explained to the Council that it would be in the City’s best interest to implement an ordinance to regulate the aspects under their control. The City’s control is mainly over the aesthetics of the towers. The City cannot prevent the construction of the towers, only dictate to some degree their appearance.

The Council voted to grant the permits with conditions, which include:

  • Submitting a revised coverage map that clearly shows the projected coverage areas of existing and proposed small cell towers.
  • Submitting a revised plan of the underground utilities needed and a detailed work plan.
  • Submitting a written state from a licensed engineer explaining why existing DTE poles cannot be used.

The City’s ordinance requires the small cell towers to be installed “in a manner, size and appearance that is consistent and in conformity with the existing decorative elements in the downtown.”

The downtown street lights are a vintage style that is fluted and tapered. Verizon has submitted a photo of its tower design that would coordinate with the existing cityscape.

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