Board mulls new cell tower guidelines

By on May 22, 2019

Warwick Township is in the process of planning for communication technology that is not yet in existence.

A public hearing during the May 15 meeting of the Warwick Township board of supervisors, discussed an amendment ordinance for general and specific standards relating to the location, placement, construction and maintenance of communication towers and antennas within public and private right-of-ways.

The public hearing went smoothly, mostly because there were no community members in attendance.

That wasn’t the case in December, when several local residents expressed their concerns about potential health effects of 5G technology. They cited studies that indicate that the new 5G cell towers may be more dangerous than existing towers, because of the shorter length of millimeter waves required to support the bandwidth. They believed that more cell towers may equate to more exposure to radiation.

The township’s proposed amended ordinance has guidelines for the location of towers in order to reduce the potential risks.

At the May 15 hearing, supervisors noted that their aim is to get ahead of upcoming technologies, so that guidelines are in place before they come into play.

Township manager Dan Zimmerman noted that many people are excited about the new G5 technology, which creates a fifth generation of high speed wireless communications. Succeeding 4G, 3G and 2G systems, 5G performance is expected to produce high data rates, energy savings, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and better device connectivity.
To achieve the higher bandwidth for the G5 technology, there will need to be more wireless antennas on lamp posts, utility poles and other structures.

Warwick Township’s proposed amended ordinance has guidelines for the location of towers in order to reduce the potential risks. Here a worker prepares to work on upgrades to a cell Tower in Ephrata last month.

The amended ordinance covers the application process for communication antennas, towers, and accessory equipment outside the public right-of-way, including proof that a gap in coverage exists, towers outside the right-of-way cannot exceed 150 feet in height, a performance bond prior to receipt of a zoning permit, and time frames for application, processing, insurance certification, and liability waiver regulations.

New regulations of communications towers in the street right-of-way limit these to 40 feet in height, permission for conditional use in applicable zoning districts, and towers cannot be located within 200 feet of any school or park.

Communication antennas located within the street right-of-way must be located on existing poles were feasible, and design cannot be more than six feet in height above the grade and in proportion to the structures on which they are mounted. The township will determine the time, place, and manner of construction, maintenance, repair and/or removal. Antennas and accessory equipment cannot cause obstruction to pedestrian or vehicular traffic or safety hazards. They cannot be located within 200 feet of any school or park.

The current draft of the Wireless Ordinance Amendment attempts to balance demands for new communications technologies with safety concerns. Discussion will continue next month prior to approval of the revised ordinance.

In other business, Zimmerman reported that 40 volunteer fire fighters, fire police and ambulance personnel have been processed for the township’s Volunteer Service Credit Program. Volunteers will be able to apply for the credit that will provide a $100 savings on earned income tax.

The Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County will be officially dedicated on Sunday, June 9, at the park site at 651 Kissel Hill Road, Lititz, from 1 to 2 p.m.

The Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County recognizes those who have served in the U.S. Military services, including the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Navy.

Ground was broken for the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County in November 2018, just across from the Lititz Public Library. Plans for the park had been underway since 2013, with fundraising beginning in 2014.

The idea for the park came from a letter to the editor from the wife of a veteran. Former Warwick Township supervisor C. David Kramer, who is also a veteran, worked with land owner Wayne Siegrist, who provide 2-1/2 acres of land for the veterans park. It was a tribute to Siegrist’s father, who had been a World War II veteran at the D-Day invasion.

The plan features a circular honor court with a flag in the center, lined with memorial brick pavers in honor of veterans. The park was designed by landscape architect Robert Kornman, a member of the Warwick Township Planning Commission and veteran of the U.S. Army.

Supervisors approved a request to hold Rothsville Community Days on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Forney Field. The event has been held for 10 years as a community-wide celebration.
In subdivision-related business, requests to close out the improvement guarantees for both the LGH Kissel Hill project and the Rock Lititz Hotel were granted.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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