Safe Schools for Prince George's County

Parents, Neighbors, and Students Against  Cell Towers on School Property

How do you know that Milestone Communications' cell towers will have more than 4 maintenance visits a year?  

Documentation exists. Milestone has already submitted documentation to other jurisdictions stating that visits would exceed 12 a year.  As an example they state the following:

"Routine maintenance does occur for each of the equipment structures or cabinets once or twice a month as performed by a service technician driving a standard sized vehicle to the site...  The proposed facility.. will not generate vehicular traffic other than once of twice a month for a technician to visit to ensure everything is in proper working order.
-Application for Determination Pursuant to Section 15.2-2232, Code of Virginia. Part II Statement of Justification Read the Document HERE pages 22 and 23. 


Who is in charge of overseeing this process?

Each cell tower and co-location application is reviewed by the PG County's Tower Committee or Prince George's County Telecommunications Transmission Facility Coordinating Committee (TTFCC). This is the committee with the technical expertise on cell towers.   The TTFCC was found to have violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board on November 19, 2014.

The Tower Committee should have been/ should be flagging each cell tower application as ineligible for construction without a Special Exception. We have told County Executive Baker that the Committee is not doing its job. We have explained that construction permits were not properly issued on the towers needing Special Exception Hearings, and we have requested that Mr. Baker issue "Stop Work Orders" until these cell towers have first received Special Exceptions. Contact County Executive Rashurn Baker at (301) 952-4131 and ask him to immediately issue "Stop Work Orders" on all school cell tower construction permits.


Has the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission  been notified? 
Community members have contacted Park and Planning on numerous occasions. 

What do they say? 

"Whether the requirements of the code in regard to maintenance visits are met is an enforcement issue which would be handled after the facilities are installed.  As the erector of the facility presumably  would bear responsibility for any other antennae located on the monopole or tower, four such visits may well be sufficient barring a weather event or other emergency.  If the code requirements are not met after installation, the county’s code enforcement agents would be required to address the matter."
-Fern Piret,  Planning Director at Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in an email sent Fri, Aug 8, 2014 11:08 am

Does this make sense? Build it and then see if it meets code? When we know that it will not meet code by virtue of it's inherent needs?


What Can I do? 
Please feel free to call and contact Park and Planning  about this. ​Fern.Piret@ppd.mncppc.org, Deborah.Gallagher@ppd.mncppc.org
Also please contact County Executive Rushern Baker as he has been notified as well. 

What does Milestone Communications state? 
Milestone Communications has been asked several questions about the maintenance needs (generator model, worker schedules) of the proposed Prince Georges School Cell Towers. Community members asked for Milestone to send information in writing. Len Forkas, President of Milestone Communications has so far declined from sending this written information after repeated requests. 

Isn't the public school system considered a state entity and, as such, is not subject to our local zoning ordinance? 

No. This rationale does not apply when a State entity leases property to a private party. While State-owned property used by aprivate entity for a public purpose remains exempt from local zoning regulation, such property used for a private purposes is subject to local zoning control. 73 Opinions of the Attorney General 238, 240(1988); see also 78 Opinions of the Attorney General 58 (1993).
http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opinions/2006/91oag164.pdf


 

Section 27-445(b) of Subtitle 27 of the Prince Georges County Code allows for a monopole & related equipment buildings in enclosures as a permitted use in accordance with the below section.  If the use cannot meet the requirements below a Special Exception will be required.
 
An antenna/ monopole for wireless communication is permitted in the residential table of uses pursuant to the below requirements
Sec. 27-445.04.  Antennas, monopoles, and related equipment buildings for wireless telecommunications.
 
         (a)   Antennas, monopoles, and related equipment buildings permitted (P) in the Table of Uses shall be subject to the following requirements:
                (1)    The antenna shall comply with the following standards:
                        (A)   Unless otherwise prohibited below, it shall be concealed within the opaque exterior of a structure or be attached to a public utility, radio, television, or telecommunications broadcasting tower/monopole; a light pole; a multifamily dwelling at least five (5) stories in height; a structure owned by a municipality, the Board of Education for Prince George's County,  or by Prince George's County; or a structure owned and primarily used by a government agency that is exempt from the requirements of this Subtitle;
                        (B)   It shall not extend more than fifteen (15) feet above the height of the tower or structure to which it is attached;
                        (C)   It shall not exceed the following dimensions:
                                 (i)     Twenty (20) feet in length and seven (7) inches in diameter for whips;
                                 (ii)    Ten (10) feet in length and two (2) feet in width for panels;
                                 (iii)   Seven (7) feet in length and one (1) foot in diameter for cylinders; or
                                 (iv)   Seven (7) feet in diameter for parabolic dishes; and
                        (D)   On privately owned land, it shall not support lights or signs unless required for aircraft warning or other safety reasons.
                (2)    The related telecommunications equipment building or enclosure shall comply with the following standards:
                        (A)   It shall not exceed five hundred sixty (560) square feet of gross floor area or twelve (12) feet in height;
                        (B)   The building or enclosure shall be screened by means of landscaping or berming to one hundred percent (100%) opacity from any adjoining land in a Residential Zone (or land proposed to be used for residential purposes on an approved Basic Plan for a Comprehensive Design Zone, or any approved Conceptual or Detailed Site Plan);
                        (C)   When attached to an existing building, it shall match the construction material and color(s) of that building;
                        (D)   When constructed as a freestanding building, it shall be constructed of brick and its design shall coordinate with the design of any existing main building on the same lot or on an adjoining lot; and
                        (
E)    The building or enclosure shall be unmanned, with infrequent (four (4) or fewer per year) visits by maintenance personnel, and with access and parking for no more than one (1) vehicle.
                (3)    The monopole shall comply with the following standards:
                        (A)   The maximum height shall be one hundred ninety-nine (199) feet when located on public property or one hundred (100) feet when located on all other properties;
                        (B)   For privately owned land, the minimum setback from all adjoining land and dwelling units shall be equal to the height of the structure measured from its base; for publicly owned land, the minimum setback shall be one-half (1/2) of the height of the structure measured from the base to the adjoining property lines;
                        (C)   For privately owned land, the minimum area required shall be two and one-half acres (2 ½);
                        (D)   On privately owned land, the structure shall not support lights or signs unless required for aircraft warning or other safety reasons;
                        (E)    The structure shall be designed, galvanized, and/or painted  in a manner which is harmonious with surrounding properties;
                        (F)    The applicant shall provide certification from a registered engineer that the structure will meet the applicable design standards for wind loads of the Electronic Industries Association (EIA) for Prince George's County; and
                        (G)   Any monopole which is no longer used for telecommunications purposes for a continuous period of one (1) year shall be removed by the monopole owner at owner's expense.
(CB-61-1988; CB-81-1993; CB-123-1994; CB-103-1997; CB-13-1998; CB-65-2000; CB-33-2007)

Prince George's County is in Violation of it's own Zoning Code. 

Cell Towers proposed on school property in residential zoned areas

should go through the special exception process. 


What does Prince George's County Code state? 

According to the terms of PG code, these cell towers should go through the special exception process.

Prince George’s  County Code states  no special exception process is needed only if there are 4 or fewer visits to cell tower compound.  Fact:These cell towers will need more than 4 visits a year. 

 If the monopole meets the requirements in Sec. 27-445.04. then it is a permitted use in the zone not requiring a Special Exception.  See Sec. 27-445.04.  Antennas, monopoles, and related equipment buildings for wireless telecommunications. 

(E)    The building or enclosure shall be unmanned, with infrequent (four (4) or fewer per year) visits by maintenance personnel, and with access and parking for no more than one (1) vehicle.


However, the industry standard dictates that these towers will require 12 to 24 visits  a year, per carrier, due to the need for worker maintenance visits. In addition, the leases for these towers state there will be a minimum of 4 visits per year.