Chapter 20.13
WIRELESS COMMUNICATION FACILITIES

Sections:

20.13.010    Purpose.

20.13.020    Definitions.

20.13.030    Applicability – Exemptions.

20.13.040    Permitted uses.

20.13.050    Administrative approval uses.

20.13.060    Conditional uses.

20.13.070    Nonconforming uses and structures.

20.13.080    Prohibited locations.

20.13.085    Siting priorities.

20.13.090    Design and development standards.

20.13.100    Temporary uses.

20.13.110    Special exceptions.

20.13.120    Application requirements and conditions of issuance.

20.13.130    General criteria for issuance of permits.

20.13.140    Federal requirements.

20.13.150    Removal of antennas and support structures.

20.13.160    Third party review.

20.13.170    Appeals.

20.13.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish regulations for the placement, development, permitting, and removal of personal wireless communication facilities including support structures and antennas. These standards were developed to comply with the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. They are intended to protect property values and minimize visual impact while furthering the development of enhanced telecommunication services in the county.

The provisions of this chapter are not intended to and shall not be interpreted to prohibit or to have the effect of prohibiting personal wireless services. This chapter shall not be applied in such a manner as to discriminate between providers of functionally equivalent personal wireless services.

In reviewing an application to provide personal wireless service or to install personal wireless service facilities, the county shall act within a reasonable period of time, taking into account the nature and scope of the application and the required notice and necessary review process. Any decision to deny an application shall be in writing, supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings. Other words and terms shall have meanings assigned to them by Chapter 20.97 WCC or, if not defined in this chapter or Chapter 20.97 WCC, the meaning customarily assigned to them.

(1) “Administrator” means the director of planning and development services or his designee.

(2) “Amateur radio” or “ham radio” means radio facilities operated for noncommercial purposes by individuals licensed by the FCC with an interest in construction and operation of radio equipment, usually as a hobby or vocation.

(3) “Ancillary equipment facility (AEF)” means an unstaffed structure used to contain ancillary equipment for a WCF. Such structures include cabinets, shelters, remodeled structures, pedestals and other similar structures. Ancillary equipment may include air conditioners and emergency generators.

(4) “Antenna” means any pole, panel, reflection disc, or similar device used for the transmission or reception of radio frequency signals, including but not limited to directional antennas, omni-directional antennas, and parabolic antennas.

(5) “Antenna array” means any system of poles, panels, rods, reflecting discs or similar devices used for the transmission or reception of radio frequency signals. An antenna array can be made up of one or more antennas including but not limited to the following:

(a) Directional antenna (also known as a panel antenna) which transmits signals in a directional pattern of less than 360 degrees.

(b) Omni-directional antenna (also known as a whip antenna) which transmits signals in a 360-degree pattern.

(c) Parabolic antenna (also known as a dish antenna) which is a bowl-shaped device that receives and transmits signals in a specific directional pattern (e.g., point-to-point).

(6) “Attached wireless communication support structure” is a support structure not specifically designed and constructed to support an antenna array. Such structures may include but are not limited to buildings or structures, utility poles, signs, and water towers, together with any accompanying pole or device (attachment device) which attaches the antenna array to the existing building or structure.

(7) “Attached wireless communication facility” is a wireless communication facility that utilizes an attached wireless communication support structure as defined in subsection (6) of this section. It means the site, the leased area, attached wireless communication support structures, antennas, antenna array(s), accessory equipment structures, and appurtenances used to transmit, receive, distribute, provide or offer personal wireless communication, together with any accompanying pole or device (attachment device) which attaches the antenna array to the existing building or structure, transmission cables, and an ancillary equipment facility which may be located either inside or outside of the attachment structure.

(8) “Citizens band radio” means two-way radio facilities operated for short-range personal and business communications, without necessity of a federal license, pursuant to 47 Congressional Federal Register Part 95.

(9) “Clustering” means the placement of more than one wireless communication support structure on a single site either by one provider or by several different providers.

(10) “Collocate” means the installation of wireless services equipment on a freestanding or attached wireless communication facility that may be shared by one or more wireless service providers to transmit and/or receive radio frequency signals for communication purposes. For the purposes of this chapter, the terms “collocate”, “collocation” or “co-locate” may be used interchangeably to describe action taken by a principal facility owner, an authorized agent, or a valid lessee to add wireless services equipment to an existing facility. Note: The spelling of these terms may vary based on local vernacular used by wireless service industry professionals, and in accordance with state and federal law.

(11) “Direct-to-home satellite service” means the distribution or broadcasting of programming or services by satellite directly to the subscriber’s premises without use of ground receiving or distribution equipment, except at the subscriber’s premises or in the uplink process to the satellite.

(12) “FAA” means the Federal Aviation Administration.

(13) “FCC” means the Federal Communications Commission.

(14) “Freestanding wireless communication facility” means the site, the lease area, freestanding wireless communication support tower(s), antennas, antenna array(s), accessory equipment structures, and appurtenances used to transmit, receive, distribute, provide or offer personal wireless communication services. Freestanding wireless communication facilities include but are not limited to antennas, poles, towers, cables, wires, conduits, ducts, pedestals, vaults, buildings, and electronic switching equipment.

(15) “Freestanding wireless communication support structure” is a freestanding structure, designed and constructed to specifically support an antenna array, and may include but is not limited to any of the structures listed below:

(a) “Lattice tower” means a wireless communication support structure which consists of a network of vertical and horizontal supports and crossed metal braces, forming a tower which is usually triangular or square in cross-section.

(b) “Monopole tower” means a wireless communication support structure consisting of a single pole to support antennas and connecting appurtenances.

(c) “Guyed tower” means any variety of wireless communication support structures using wire guys connecting above grade portions of a communication support structure diagonally with the ground or the structure on which the tower is placed. The purpose of the wire guys is to provide support for wireless communication towers, antennas, and connecting appurtenances.

(16) “Personal wireless communication services” means wireless communication services.

(17) “Satellite earth station” means the facilities used for reception and processing of programming services from a satellite prior to transfer to terrestrial distribution systems or for processing of programming and services from a terrestrial source before transmission via satellite.

(18) Site. For the purpose of this chapter, “site” means a leased area which may contain a base station, building(s) or structure in compliance with provisions of Whatcom County subdivision regulations, site easement area or lot of record upon which a wireless communications facility is or will be located.

(19) “Unlicensed wireless services” means commercial mobile services that operate on public frequencies and do not need a FCC license.

(20) “Wireless communication facilities” means facilities for the provision of wireless service. Wireless communication facilities include, but are not limited to, antennas, poles, towers, cables, wires, conduits, ducts, pedestals, vaults, buildings, and electronic and switching equipment.

(21) “Wireless communication service” means wireless data and telecommunications services, including commercial mobile services, commercial mobile data services, unlicensed wireless services, and common carrier wireless exchange access services, as defined by federal laws and regulations.

(22) “Substantially change the physical dimensions” means:

(a) The installation or mounting of wireless services equipment on an existing support structure that would increase the overall height of the structure by more than 10 percent, or 20 feet, whichever is greater; provided, that any such increase in height must conform to the provisions of this chapter; or

(b) The installation or mounting of equipment that would involve adding an appurtenance to the body of the structure that would protrude from the edge of the structure more than 20 feet or more than the width of the structure at the level of the appurtenance, whichever is greater; provided, that in making determinations as to whether or not project proposals constitute a substantial change as described in this subsection, and in order to limit incremental and cumulative effects concerning the overall size of such facilities, measurements shall be taken to establish a base line for determining whether or not proposed changes constitute a substantial change; such measurements shall be taken from the dimensions of the existing facility as it was approved and constructed under the original building permit issued by Whatcom County. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.030 Applicability – Exemptions.

The requirements of this chapter shall apply to all new personal wireless communication facilities and the expansion and/or alteration of any existing personal wireless communication facilities. The following are exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

(1) Satellite earth stations using antenna(s) not more than two meters in diameter in commercial and industrial districts and direct-to-home satellite services.

(2) Send and receive citizen band radio antennas or antennas operated by federally licensed amateur (“ham”) radio operators.

(3) Industrial, scientific and medical equipment using frequencies regulated by the FCC.

(4) Military and government radar antennas and associated communication towers used for navigational purposes as regulated by the FCC under 47 Congressional Federal Register Parts 97 and 95 respectively.

(5) Military and federal, state and local government communications facilities used for emergency preparedness and public safety purposes.

(6) Normal, routine and emergency maintenance and repair of existing wireless communications facilities and related equipment which do not increase the size, footprint or bulk of such facilities and which otherwise comply with the county, state, and federal law and regulations; provided, that compliance with design and development standards of this chapter is maintained. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.040 Permitted uses.

The following uses shall be considered permitted uses and shall comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations and the provisions of this chapter (including but not limited to WCC 20.13.120); the following uses shall also be subject to environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), unless categorically exempt:

(1) Replacement construction. In all districts: Replacement of any component of an existing freestanding or attached wireless communication facility, and/or replacement of any component of an existing ancillary equipment facility on existing, approved and conforming sites; provided, that such replacement does not increase the total number of components lawfully existing on the site at the time of application for such replacement construction; and further provided, that such replacement construction does not “substantially change the physical dimensions” of the individual components being replaced as defined in WCC 20.13.020(22).

Determinations made as to whether or not replacement proposals substantially change the physical dimensions of existing facilities shall be made by the administrator, as follows:

(a) The applicant or applicant’s agent must submit documentation to the administrator that demonstrates that replacement construction proposals do not substantially change the physical dimensions of such facilities as defined in WCC 20.13.020(22). Examples of such documentation may include specification sheets and/or area calculations for both the existing and proposed replacement equipment. Such documentation must be submitted at the time of preapplication interview for the required commercial building permit(s).

(b) The applicant or applicant’s agent must also submit documentation to the administrator demonstrating that replacement construction meets Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Emission Standards (as applicable). Such documentation must be submitted at time of application for the required commercial building permit(s).

(2) New antenna or new antenna array construction. In all districts: New antennas or new antenna arrays may be constructed on or added to existing, attached or freestanding wireless communication facilities on existing, approved and conforming sites; provided, that such new antennas or antenna arrays do not “substantially change the physical dimensions” of such facilities, as defined in WCC 20.13.020(22).

Determinations made as to whether or not new construction proposals substantially change the physical dimensions of existing facilities shall be made by the administrator, as follows:

(a) The applicant or applicant’s agent must submit documentation to the administrator that demonstrates that the proposed new antenna or new antenna array construction does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such facilities. Examples of such documentation may include specification sheets and/or area calculations for both the existing and the proposed new equipment. Such documentation must be submitted at the time of pre-application interview for the required commercial building permit(s).

(b) The applicant or applicant’s agent must also submit documentation to the administrator that demonstrates that any new antenna(s) meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Emission Standards (as applicable). Such documentation must be submitted at time of application for the required commercial building permit(s). (Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. N), 2017; Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014).

20.13.050 Administrative approval uses.

The following uses are considered administrative approval uses and shall require a wireless communication facility (WCF) permit in accordance with Chapters 2.33 and 20.84 WCC, and shall be subject to a threshold determination in accordance with the Whatcom County SEPA Ordinance unless categorically exempt; provided, that WCF permit proposals located in nonresidential related districts shall be exempt from the public noticing requirements found in Chapter 2.33 WCC, Permit Review Procedures.

Uses described in this section must comply with county, state, and federal law and regulations and all applicable provisions of this chapter. The administrator may refer an application for a WCF permit to a technical review committee for its review prior to making a decision on the application.

(1) Wireless Communication Facility (WCF) Permit. New freestanding wireless communication support structures, new antennas or antenna arrays on existing freestanding or attached wireless communication structures on existing approved and conforming sites, and new attached wireless communication facilities that substantially change the physical dimensions of a facility as defined in WCC 20.13.020(22) may be approved by the administrator through issuance of a WCF permit, subject to a required commercial building permit. Prior to application approval, the applicant or applicant’s agent must also submit documentation to the administrator that demonstrates that any new antenna(s) meet Federal Communication Commission (FCC) emission standards (as applicable).

(a) New Freestanding Wireless Communication Support Structures.

(i) New freestanding wireless communication support structures (lattice towers or monopole towers) may be collocated or clustered on existing, approved and conforming wireless communication facility sites in the following residential related districts: Rural, Residential Rural, and Rural Residential Island.

(ii) New freestanding wireless communication support structures (monopoles only) may be collocated or clustered on existing, approved and conforming wireless communication facility sites in the following residential related districts: Urban Residential, Urban Residential Medium, Urban Residential Mixed, Neighborhood Commercial, and Eliza Island; provided, that the site does not also contain residential uses.

(iii) Monopoles that are permitted as a WCF may exceed the height limits of the underlying residential related zone by 15 feet; provided, the applicant demonstrates that the structure’s height is the minimum necessary to adequately function, or if collocation is specifically provided for on the tower. The additional 15 feet for collocation may be added to the 15 feet necessary for adequate function for a total of 30 feet in the event both situations pertain.

(iv) In all nonresidential districts: New freestanding wireless communication support structures (lattice towers or monopole towers) may be collocated or clustered on approved and conforming sites; provided, that the height of such structures shall be subject to requirements of WCC 20.13.092(9)(b); and provided further, that the height does not exceed 150 feet. Additional height may be approved only by special exception as provided in WCC 20.13.110.

(b) New Attached Wireless Communication Facilities. New attached wireless communication facilities may be approved by the administrator through issuance of a WCF permit, and subject to a required commercial building permit(s), as provided below:

(i) In all residential districts: new attached wireless communication facilities or new antennas attached to existing attached wireless communication structures that utilize a nonresidential structure on a parcel or lot not used primarily for residential purposes; provided, the antenna is not more than 15 feet above the roof or parapet wall or top of structure (if not a building). Installation of dish antennas on the roof of an attached wireless communication structure may be permitted as a WCF permit if the applicant demonstrates to the administrator that such proposal satisfies the special exception criteria pursuant to WCC 20.13.110.

(ii) In all nonresidential related districts: Ground-mounted dish antennas may be located on existing approved, conforming sites; provided, that the site is not used exclusively for residential purposes.

(iii) In all residential related districts: Ground-mounted dish antennas may be located on existing approved, conforming sites; provided, that the site is not used exclusively for residential purposes and the antenna is not more than 15 feet above ground level nor more than 12 feet in diameter.

(c) New antennas or antenna arrays on existing freestanding wireless communication facilities or existing attached wireless communication facilities on existing, approved and conforming sites may be approved by the administrator through issuance of a WCF permit, and subject to required commercial building permit(s):

(i) In all nonresidential districts: New antennas or antenna arrays may be added to existing freestanding wireless communication support structures on existing approved and conforming sites; provided, that the height of such new antennas or antenna arrays shall not extend more than 15 feet above the attachment device.

(ii) In all residential districts: New antennas or antenna arrays may be added to existing freestanding wireless communication support structures on approved and conforming sites; provided, that the height of such new antennas or antenna arrays shall be subject to the requirements of WCC 20.13.092(9)(b).

(iii) In all residential districts: new antennas on existing attached wireless communication structures that utilize a nonresidential structure on a parcel or lot not used primarily for residential purposes; provided, the antenna is not more than 15 feet above the roof or parapet wall or top of structure (if not a building). Installation of dish antennas on the roof of an attached wireless communication structure may be permitted as a WCF permit if the applicant demonstrates to the administrator that such proposal satisfies the special exception criteria pursuant to WCC 20.13.110.

(iv) In all nonresidential related districts: new antennas attached on existing attached wireless communication structures that utilize a nonresidential structure on a parcel or lot not used primarily for residential purposes; provided, the antenna is not more than 15 feet above the roof or parapet.

(2) Ancillary Equipment Facilities.

(a) New ancillary equipment facilities or replacement construction that substantially increases the physical dimensions of an existing facility as defined in WCC 20.13.020(22) may be permitted on existing approved, conforming sites as an ancillary equipment facility (AEF) under the scope of a WCF permit. Such structures include cabinets, shelters, remodeled structures, pedestals and other similar structures. Ancillary equipment may include air conditioners, emergency generators, and GPS units. Installation of such ancillary equipment when included in the scope of a WCF permit shall conform to original time frames for completion set by the administrator, or as further amended by the administrator. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014).

20.13.060 Conditional uses.

(1) The following uses shall require conditional use permit approval by the hearing examiner, and shall be processed in accordance with Chapters 2.33 and 20.84 WCC and shall be subject to a threshold determination in accordance with the Whatcom County SEPA Ordinance, unless categorically exempt. Such uses shall comply with county, state, and federal law and regulations and all applicable provisions of this chapter. The applicant or applicant’s agent must also submit documentation to the administrator that demonstrates that any new antennas meet Federal Communication Commission (FCC) emission standards (as applicable). The administrator may refer an application for a conditional use to a technical review committee for review and comment prior to referring the application to the hearing examiner for a decision.

(a) New Freestanding Wireless Communication Facilities.

(i) In all nonresidential related districts: new freestanding wireless communication facilities that utilize lattice tower or monopole wireless communication support structures; provided, that the height of such structures shall be subject to the requirements of WCC 20.13.092(9)(b); and further provided, that the height does not exceed 150 feet. Additional height may only be approved by special exception as provided in WCC 20.13.110.

(ii) New freestanding wireless communication facilities that utilize lattice towers or monopole towers in the following residential related districts: Rural, Residential Rural, Rural Residential Island; provided, that the height of such structures shall be subject to the requirements of WCC 20.13.092(9)(b).

(iii) New freestanding wireless communication facilities that utilize monopole towers only in the following residential districts: Urban Residential, Urban Residential Medium, Urban Residential Mixed, Neighborhood Commercial, and Eliza Island; provided, that the site does not also contain existing residential uses; and further provided, that the height of such structures shall be subject to the requirements of WCC 20.13.092(9)(b).

(b) New Attached Wireless Communication facilities:

(i) In all nonresidential related districts: New attached wireless communication facilities that utilize a residential structure on a site used exclusively for residential purposes shall require a conditional use permit; provided, that the antenna shall not extend more than 15 feet above the roof or parapet.

(ii) In all residential districts: New attached wireless communication facilities that utilize an attached wireless communication support structure that is a residential building or on a parcel used exclusively for residential purposes shall require a conditional use permit; provided, that the antenna shall not extend more than 15 feet above the roof top (or top of the structure if not a building) and that the requirements of WCC 20.13.092(1) are met. The hearing examiner shall have the authority to restrict the height of the attached antenna to a figure less than 15 feet in order to attain compliance with WCC 20.13.092(1).

(2) New ancillary equipment facilities may be permitted under the scope of a conditional use permit, or may be permitted separately as an AEF under a WCF permit pursuant to WCC 20.13.050. Such structures include cabinets, shelters, remodeled structures, pedestals and other similar structures. Ancillary equipment may include air conditioners, emergency generators, and GPS units. Installation of such ancillary equipment when included in the scope of a conditional use permit shall conform to original time frames for completion set by the hearing examiner, or as further amended by the hearing examiner. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014).

20.13.070 Nonconforming uses and structures.

Freestanding and attached wireless communication facilities, and ancillary equipment facilities in operation as of the effective date of the ordinance codified in this chapter or amendment hereto, including vested applications for such facilities, that do not conform to the use standards or development standards of this chapter shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 20.83 WCC governing nonconforming uses. Routine maintenance on existing towers and antennas is permitted as provided in WCC 20.13.030(6). However, any new construction other than routine maintenance on existing nonconforming towers, antennas, buildings or other facilities shall comply fully with the requirements of Chapter 20.83 WCC governing nonconforming uses, and this chapter. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000. Formerly 20.13.040).

20.13.080 Prohibited locations.

(1) New attached antennas or antenna arrays shall not be mounted, installed or affixed to a single-family residence, duplex or their accessory structures; this prohibition shall not apply to residential structures such as multifamily housing, condominiums, apartment buildings, hotels, rooming houses, and their appurtenant structures, such as parking garages, and storage buildings.

(2) New freestanding wireless communication support structures (lattice towers) are prohibited in Urban Residential, Urban Residential Medium, Urban Residential Mixed, Neighborhood Commercial, and Eliza Island districts.

(3) New freestanding wireless communication support structures (monopole towers and ground level dishes) are prohibited in Urban Residential, Urban Residential Medium, Urban Residential Mixed, Neighborhood Commercial, and Eliza Island districts on sites that also contain residential uses.

(4) New support structures are prohibited on lands within the jurisdiction of the Whatcom County Shoreline Program. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000. Formerly 20.13.050(4)).

20.13.085 Siting priorities.

(1) In reviewing applications for new freestanding wireless communication facilities, and new attached wireless communication facilities, the approving authority shall evaluate the proposal in relationship to the following siting priorities. Unless the facility will be located at the highest priority location, the applicant shall demonstrate that:

(a) None of the higher priority locations are available; or

(b) If one is available it is not a feasible location for the proposed facility; or

(c) If feasible, the location is less desirable than the one proposed from the standpoint of minimizing impacts on surrounding land uses.

(2) For the purpose of this chapter:

(a) Residential related districts include Urban Residential (UR), Urban Residential Medium (URM), Urban Residential Mixed (UR-MX), Eliza Island (EI), Neighborhood Commercial (NC), Residential Rural (RR), Rural Residential Island (RR-I), and Rural (R) Districts;

(b) Nonresidential related districts include:

(i) Commercial districts, including Rural General Commercial (RGC), General Commercial (GC), Resort Commercial (RC) and Tourist Commercial (TC) Districts; and

(ii) Industrial districts including Heavy Impact Industrial (HII), Light Impact Industrial (LII), Gateway Industrial (GI), Rural Industrial and Manufacturing (RIM), General Manufacturing (GM), Airport Operations (AO) and the Cherry Point Industrial District (CP-ID); and

(iii) Resource districts including Agriculture (AG), Commercial Forestry (CF), Rural Forestry (RF) and Recreation Open Space (ROS).

(3) Siting Priorities. Listed in descending order with the highest priority first:

(a) Collocated antennas on attached wireless communication structures that are nonresidential buildings and structures, and collocated antennas on existing freestanding wireless communications towers in nonresidential related districts.

(b) Collocated antennas on attached wireless communication support structures that are nonresidential buildings and structures, and collocated antennas on existing freestanding wireless communications towers in residential related districts on property not used exclusively for residential purposes.

(c) New antennas on attached wireless communication structures such as nonresidential buildings and structures in nonresidential related districts.

(d) New freestanding wireless communication support structures in low visual impact locations in resource and industrial districts.

(e) New attached wireless communication facilities that utilize nonresidential buildings and structures in residential related zones on property not used exclusively for residential purposes.

(f) New freestanding wireless communication support structures at low visual impact locations in commercial districts.

(g) Locations other than those listed above. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2011-013 § 2 Exh. B, 2011; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000. Formerly 20.13.050(1) – (3)).

20.13.090 Design and development standards.

.091 Design and Development Standards. The development standards set forth below shall apply to all wireless communication facilities. These developments standards are minimum standards and shall be in addition to any development standards or project review process which applies in the underlying district in which a wireless communication facility is located. In the event of a conflict between the provisions of this chapter and the general development standards of this title, or the project review process, the more stringent provision shall govern; provided, that where a provision of this chapter is the more specific in its application to wireless communication facilities, that provision shall prevail regardless of stringency.

(1) Anti-Climbing Devices. All freestanding and attached wireless communication support structures and required fencing shall be equipped with appropriate anti-climbing devices.

(2) Attachment to Trees Prohibited. It is prohibited to attach any wireless communication facility or portion thereof to any tree.

(3) Signage. All freestanding and attached wireless communication support structures shall be identified with a nonilluminated sign not exceeding four square feet. The sign shall list the wireless service provider’s name and emergency telephone number and shall be posted in a place visible to the general public. No advertising signs shall be located on support structures or antennas; however, arrays may be camouflaged as otherwise permitted signs.

(4) Lighting. All freestanding and attached wireless communication facilities shall not be illuminated except where required by the FAA.

(5) Painting. All freestanding and attached wireless communication facilities shall be painted or finished in a manner that blends with the dominant color of the background except where otherwise required by the FAA. The applicant and the operator of the facility shall have a continuing duty to maintain such paint or finish.

(6) Noise from Accessory Equipment. Accessory equipment facilities shall comply with state noise level standards under Chapter 173-60 WAC, as amended. Generators may only be permitted for emergency operation purposes. If air conditioning or other noise generating equipment is proposed, the applicant shall provide information detailing the expected noise level and any proposed abatement measures. This may require noise attenuation devices or other mitigation measures to minimize impacts.

(7) Copies of deeds or other instruments such as lease agreements and site easements that establish the applicant’s right to use the site shall be provided at the time of application. These may be in unsigned final draft form pending the outcome of the approval process. The boundaries of a proposed wireless communications facility site shall be defined in each such instrument in a manner that will provide a land surveyor sufficient information to accurately locate the site boundaries using standard survey methods.

(8) If the proposed site is leased, the terms of the lease shall not restrict the land owner in any way from leasing other areas of his property to other wireless communications providers with the exception that the lease may include a provision that any additional facilities so located not materially interfere with the operation of the existing facility.

.092 General Design Standards.

(1) Antennas that are mounted, installed or affixed to an attached wireless communication support structure shall be designed or placed to blend with the predominant background or architectural features as seen from abutting residential uses, roadways or other public rights-of-way.

(2) When located on buildings, panel antennas shall be placed closely against walls or parapets and not extend above the wall or parapet unless an alternative design is required to (a) achieve better compatibility with the building design or (b) to obtain antenna function.

(3) Ancillary equipment facility structures shall be placed underground or wholly enclosed in an existing structure or building, or designed to blend into the architecture and landscaping of the surrounding buildings or structures. When equipment boxes are placed at ground level, they shall be screened from view.

(4) Ground-mounted dishes shall be located outside any required landscaped area and preferably located in service areas or other less visible locations. They shall be solidly screened to at least as high as the center of the dish when viewed from off the site. Solid screening shall be provided as high as the top of the dish on sides adjacent to residential zones.

Roof-mounted dishes shall be solidly screened at least as high as the center of the dish. The screening shall be of a material and design compatible with the building, and can include penthouse screening, parapet walls, or other similar screening. The dish should be placed as close to the center of the roof as possible.

(5) Antennas on utility poles shall be limited to antennas that are no more than two feet in length unless the approving authority finds that the visual impact of a longer antenna would not have an appreciable effect on surrounding uses. No more than one antenna is permitted per pole. No utility pole shall be extended in height in order to accommodate an antenna. No antenna shall be allowed on light standards.

(6) Setbacks Applicable. The following setback standards shall apply to wireless communication facilities:

(a) Accessory equipment structures shall comply with the setback requirements for principal nonaccessory structures in the underlying district. An antenna and its attachment device attached to a building or other permanent structures shall comply with the setback requirements for principal nonaccessory structures in the underlying district. Where the setback requirement in the underlying zone is based on the height of the structure, the height used to compute the setback for the antenna array shall be the height of the structure plus the additional height that will be added by the antenna array and its attachment device.

(b) Freestanding wireless communication support structures located in a residential related district as described in WCC 20.13.085 shall be set back from any property line by a distance equal to the height of the wireless communications support structure or the setback of the underlying use district, whichever is greater.

(c) Freestanding wireless communication support structures located in other than residential related districts shall be set back from any property line abutting or adjacent to a residential related district a distance equal to the height of the wireless communications support structure or the setback of the underlying use district, whichever is greater.

(d) Regardless of the district, freestanding wireless communication structures shall be set back from dwellings not on the same legal lot, a distance equal to the height of the freestanding wireless communication support structure or the setback of the underlying use district whichever is greater.

(e) Setbacks for freestanding wireless communication support structures shall be measured from the ground level base of the structure.

(f) The setback requirements for freestanding and attached wireless communication facilities under this chapter may be reduced by the approving authority subject to the satisfaction of the special exception criteria in WCC 20.13.110.

(7) In the event that a new freestanding or attached wireless communication facility is proposed on land zoned agriculture or in an agriculture overlay zone and the land is otherwise suitable for agricultural use, the facility shall be located and maintained so as not to interfere with current agricultural activities or the potential future use of the site for agricultural activities.

(8) Screening Standards. Freestanding and attached wireless communication facilities shall be subject to the following standards for visual screening:

(a) The perimeter of the wireless communication support structure and any guyed wires and anchors shall be enclosed by a fence or wall at least six feet in height. A row of evergreen shrubs, spaced not more than five feet apart and capable of growing to form a continuous hedge at least five feet high within five years of planting, and at least one row of evergreen trees or shrubs spaced not more than 10 feet apart nor less than six feet high when planted shall be installed outside and adjacent to the fence.

(b) Landscape material used for screening should be selected and sited to produce a hardy and drought-resistant landscape area. Native plant materials are preferred.

(c) Maintenance of landscaped areas shall be the responsibility of the applicant and/or operator of the facility. Required landscaping must be maintained in a healthy manner. Trees and shrubs that die must be replaced with healthy in-kind materials such that during the life of the facility the landscaping continues to satisfy the requirements of the permit. Temporary irrigation shall be provided to help ensure survival during the plant establishment period. If the approving authority determined that existing vegetation provided adequate screening without the need for additional landscaping, then no action shall be taken by the applicant or his assigns or successors that would diminish its effectiveness in screening the site. In the event that natural vegetation is removed to the extent that the area required to be screened is made more visible, the operator of the facility shall prepare a revegetation plan and submit the plan to the administrator for review and approval. Upon approval, the operator shall implement the plan.

(d) The administrator or the hearing examiner as appropriate may approve any combination of existing vegetation, topography, walls, decorative fences or other features instead of landscaping, if they achieve the same degree of screening as the required landscaping. Either, as appropriate, may waive the requirement for the installation of screening for those sides of the facility that are naturally screened so as not to be visible from public streets or adjoining properties.

(e) Existing vegetation shall be preserved to the maximum extent practicable.

(f) When landscaping is required to be installed a maintenance bond, assignment of funds or other financial guaranty acceptable to the county shall be provided in the amount of 50 percent of the value of the labor and materials. The guaranty shall be in effect for two years from the date of planting.

(9) General Height Standards. The following standards shall apply to wireless communications facilities:

(a) The height of a freestanding or attached wireless communication facility shall be measured to include the support structure and any antennas proposed to be attached to the structure at the time of application; provided, that a lightning rod, not to exceed 10 feet, or FAA required lighting shall not be included in the height measurement.

(b) The height limit on a freestanding wireless communications facility shall be the minimum height necessary for the facility to function satisfactorily provided the height does not exceed height restriction imposed elsewhere in this chapter. The applicant shall provide technical documentation that the height proposed is the minimum necessary. As provided in WCC 20.13.160, the administrator or the hearing examiner may require a third party review of this information.

(c) The height of antennas mounted or installed on an attached wireless communication support structure may exceed the height limit of the underlying zone; provided, that the height does not exceed height restriction imposed elsewhere in this chapter.

(10) Parking. Each freestanding and attached wireless communication support structure shall be provided with at least one adjacent parking space or more if needed to accommodate staff. All unstaffed facilities shall have access to parking for maintenance personnel; however, such parking may be shared or public parking at the discretion of the county. Staffed facilities shall require one parking space per staff under the standard provisions of the zone in which it is located.

(11) Building and Utility Permits. Approval of a WCF permit does not exempt or otherwise remove any requirements for obtaining building permits and other applicable construction, development or operation related permits, licenses or approvals for the project. It shall be the permittee’s responsibility to secure all other necessary permits and approvals prior to beginning work on the installation of the facility. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000. Formerly 20.13.060).

20.13.100 Temporary uses.

Freestanding or attached wireless communication facilities may be permitted as a temporary use with review by the administrator in order to facilitate continuity in wireless communication service during repair or maintenance of existing wireless communication facilities or prior to completion of construction of new wireless communication facilities. Such temporary uses shall operate for not more than 60 days at any one location within a six-month period commencing when transmission from such facility begins. The wireless communication facility(s) shall be removed within 30 days after the facility is no longer needed for telecommunications purposes. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000. Formerly 20.13.090).

20.13.110 Special exceptions.

When adherence to all development standards of this chapter would result in a physical barrier which would block signal reception or transmission or prevent effective communication in all permissible locations, a special exception may be permitted provided criteria outlined below are met. Exceptions do not apply to variations from the current code as adopted and amended per WCC Title 15, Buildings and Construction. A variance pursuant to Chapter 20.84 WCC is required for variations from applicable zoning regulations not described in this section.

The approval authority for granting of the special exception shall be the same as that of the authority authorized to approve the permit for the antenna location. A request for a special exception shall be processed in conjunction with the permit approving the antenna location.

Upon review of special exception requests, the approval authority shall consider first those standards having the least effect upon the resulting aesthetic compatibility of the antenna or tower with the surrounding environment. The approval authority shall review setback, size, screening requirements, and height limits.

(1) Special Exception Criteria.

(a) The applicant shall justify the request for a special exception by documenting and providing evidence that the full application of a particular standard or standards of this chapter would result in an obstruction or inability to send and receive a communication signal from the proposed location of the facility and, further, that the obstruction or inability to send or receive a signal from that location is the result of factors beyond the property owner’s or applicant’s control. Pictures, scaled drawings, maps and/or manufacturer’s specifications, and other technical information as necessary should be provided to substantiate the need for the special exception.

(b) The applicant for a special exception shall demonstrate that the proposed materials, shape, and color of the antenna will minimize negative visual impacts on adjacent or nearby residential uses to the greatest extent possible. The use of certain materials, shapes and colors may be required in order to minimize visual impacts.

(c) Any request for a special exception to heights for new antennas that are proposed to be mounted or installed on an attached wireless communication support structure shall be reviewed relative to height limitations set for structures in the underlying zone district in which the antenna is to be located.

(d) Requests for special exceptions for setback reductions shall also be judged based on the following criteria:

(i) The extent to which screening and camouflaging will be employed to mitigate the effects of the structure versus the value of the setback in providing such screening.

(ii) The need for the setback reduction to facilitate a location or design that better satisfies the criteria of this chapter.

(iii) The impact on adjacent properties.

(iv) Location in a street right-of-way. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2013-057 § 1 (Exh. A), 2013; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.120 Application requirements and conditions of issuance.

Applicants shall submit the following information in addition to standard application materials:

(1) A scaled site plan clearly indicating the location of the proposed facility, all other structures and uses on the site, adjacent roadways, proposed means of access, parking, existing and proposed landscaping and setbacks from property lines. Elevation drawings of the proposed tower, the equipment structure, existing structure with proposed antenna, fencing, buffering/screening, type of architectural treatment, and any other feature necessary to show compliance with the applicable standards.

(2) Photo-simulations of the proposed facility from adjacent residential properties, public properties and public rights-of-way.

(3) Legal description and ownership of the parcel.

(4) A valid agreement for collocation on an existing WCF support structure or on an existing building or structure; or a location evaluation study as described in subsection (5) of this section.

(5) For new freestanding support structures, a location evaluation study shall be provided as follows:

(a) A study shall be provided showing that the structure is required for present and future network coverage, that the height requested is the minimum necessary to provide for the function and potential collocated antennas and why the antennas could not be collocated on an existing structure. In residential zones, the applicant shall provide adequate proof that the facility could not be located in a nonresidential zone.

(6) The applicant shall submit a performance bond or other security acceptable to the county, as described in WCC 20.13.130(4), to cover the future costs of removal of the facility.

(7) A report from a licensed professional engineer documenting that:

(a) The support structure is designed for collocation of other antennas (if applicable).

(b) The antenna usage will not interfere with other adjacent or neighboring transmission or reception communications signals.

(c) The wireless communications facility complies with all applicable standards of the FCC for such facilities including EMF emission standards, if applicable.

(8) Proof of license by the FCC, if applicable.

(9) A copy of the findings from the FAA’s Aeronautical Study Determination regarding the proposed wireless communication support structure.

(10) A copy of the instrument that establishes the right of the applicant to use the site for the intended purpose as required in WCC 20.13.091(7).

(11) If the site is a leased site, a copy of lease agreement which specifies or shows that it does not preclude the site owner from entering into leases on the site with other providers. (Ord. 2017-030 § 1 (Exh. M), 2017; Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.130 General criteria for issuance of permits.

(1) Any applicant for a land use permit (other than a building permit) proposing to install an antenna support structure or mount an antenna on an existing structure shall demonstrate by engineering evidence that:

(a) The antenna must be located at the site to satisfy its function in the wireless service provider’s local system. The county may require the applicant to provide feasibility studies which demonstrate that locations on existing structures and/or in higher priority locations have been explored and are not feasible or available.

(b) The height requested is the minimum height necessary to fulfill the site’s function within the wireless service provider’s system.

(2) In addition to standard criteria, the authority granting the permit shall find that, unless the facility will be located at the highest priority location as set forth in WCC 20.13.085, the applicant has demonstrated that none of the higher priority locations are available or if one is available it is not a feasible location for the proposed facility, or if feasible is less desirable than the one proposed from the standpoint of minimizing impacts on surrounding land uses.

(3) The permit may include requirements which:

(a) Minimize visual impacts to the greatest extent possible by maximum feasible use of camouflage or screening, including but not limited to fencing, landscaping, strategic placement adjacent to existing buildings or live or simulated vegetation, undergrounding of accessory equipment structures, incorporation of wireless communications support structures, antennas and other appurtenances into the architectural features of existing buildings or structures and by requiring compatibility with key design elements in the surrounding area; for example, use of brick or other material similar to that used in adjacent buildings or structures, incorporation of support structures into compatible architectural features such as flag poles, bell towers or cornices, or use of simulated vegetation to camouflage support structures.

(b) Locate wireless communication facilities so as to minimize the visibility of the facility to residentially zoned land and so as to minimize the obstruction of scenic views from residentially zoned land.

(c) Require the mounting of the facility on existing buildings or structures, or use of other alternatives with less visual, aesthetic or safety impacts, as an alternative to use of a monopole or lattice tower.

(4) Performance Bond or Other Security Acceptable to the County. The operator of the facility shall obtain and keep in force throughout the time the facility is located on the site a performance bond or other security acceptable to Whatcom County payable to Whatcom County in the amount of 150 percent of the estimated cost of removal as determined by the director, but not less than $1,000. The bond is intended to cover the costs of removal of such facility at such time as the facility may be required to be removed pursuant to WCC 20.13.150. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.140 Federal requirements.

All wireless communications support structures must meet or exceed current standards and regulations of the FAA, the FCC and any other agency of the federal government with the authority to regulate wireless communication support structures and antennas. If such standards and regulations are changed, owners of the freestanding or attached wireless communication support structure, antennas and electronic equipment governed by this chapter shall bring such facility into compliance with such revised standards and regulations within the compliance schedule of the federal agency. Failure to bring such facilities into compliance with such revised standards and regulations shall constitute grounds for the removal of the facility at the owner’s expense. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.150 Removal of antennas and support structures.

No less than 30 days prior to the date that a personal wireless service provider plans to abandon or discontinue operation of a facility, the provider must notify the Whatcom County planning and development services director by certified U.S. mail of the proposed date of abandonment or discontinuation of operation. The owner of the facility shall then remove the antenna within 90 days of discontinuation or abandonment unless an additional period of time is authorized by the county. In any case, if the county finds that any wireless communication support structure has not operated for a continuous period of six months, the owner or lessee of the property shall remove the facility within 36 months of receipt of notice to remove from the county. If the abandoned facility is not removed within said time period, the county may remove the antenna or wireless communication support structure at the owner’s expense. If there are two or more wireless communications providers on a single wireless communication support structure, this provision shall not become effective until all providers cease using the wireless communication support structure. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.160 Third party review.

Personal wireless service providers use various methodologies and analyses, including geographically based computer software, to determine the specific technical parameters of their services and low power mobile radio service facilities, such as expected coverage area, antenna configuration, topographic constraints that affect signal paths, etc. Because of the technical nature of methodologies and analyses, the county may find it necessary to require a third party technical review of the material submitted by the applicant as part of a permitting process. The expert review is intended to address interference and public safety issues and be a site-specific review of technical aspects of the facilities or a review of the provider’s methodology and equipment used and not a subjective review of the site which was selected by a provider. Based on the results of the expert review, the county may require changes to the provider’s application. The expert review shall address the following:

(1) The accuracy and completeness of submissions;

(2) The applicability of analysis techniques and methodologies;

(3) The validity of conclusions reached; and

(4) Any specific technical issues designated by the county.

In general, and if necessary, the administrator shall consider requiring a third party review of technical information submitted in support of a special exception, and technical information submitted in support of a wireless communication facility proposed at a low priority, high visual impact location.

The selection of a third party expert shall be by mutual agreement between the provider and the county. The cost of the technical review shall be borne by the applicant. (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).

20.13.170 Appeals.

The hearing examiner shall have the authority to decide, in conformity with this chapter, appeals from any order, requirement, permit decision or determination made by an administrative official in the administration or enforcement of this chapter where more than one interpretation is possible; provided, that such appeal shall be filed within 14 days of the action being appealed. The hearing examiner shall hear appeals under this chapter in the same manner as provided in WCC 20.92.210(2). (Ord. 2014-042 § 1 (Att. A), 2014; Ord. 2000-006 § 1, 2000).