Wireless facilities, especially cell towers, have been a “hot topic” in Florida land use for the past decade or so. Almost all local governments in Florida have adopted some form of wireless regulations – from extremely restrictive approaches to fairly relaxed. Many local government planners, and some of their government attorneys, are not aware that the Florida Statutes specifically address local government review of wireless facilities in fairly extensive detail.
The statute provisions were first adopted in 2003 and were extensively modified in 2005. The applicable statute section is section 365.172, Florida Statutes, with the definitions being in subsection (3) and the body of the provisions in subsection (12).
An outline of the statute provisions, arranged for easier use, is found in a PDF document here – Regulation of Wireless Facilities – State Statute. A local government guide to the statute, written on behalf of two wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless and Sprint/Nextel, is found in a PDF document here – Local Government Guide to the Application of the E911 Statute to Wireless Site Development.
The statutes also address amateur radio (aka “ham radio”) facilities. In almost identical provisions, two sections of the statutes require that any regulations on amateur radio antennas adopted by municipalities (in §166.0435, Florida Statutes) or counties (in §125.561, Florida Statutes) must conform to “the limited preemption entitled ‘Amateur Radio Preemption, 101 FCC 2d 952 (1985)’ as issued by the Federal Communications Commission,” which states that “local regulations which involve placement, screening, or height of antennas based on health, safety, or aesthetic considerations must be crafted to reasonably accommodate amateur communications, and to represent the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the local authority’s legitimate purpose.”
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