Chapter 17.44


17.44.010    Purpose.

17.44.020    Definitions.

17.44.030    Applicability.

17.44.040    Permit requirements.

17.44.050    Limitations on location.

17.44.060    Facility design and development standards.

17.44.070    Operation and maintenance standards.

17.44.080    Discontinuance and site restoration.

17.44.010 Purpose.

This chapter establishes development standards consistent with federal law to regulate the placement and design of communication facilities so as to preserve the unique visual character of the city, promote the aesthetic appearance of the city, and to ensure public safety and welfare; pursue additional benefits from the facilities to the public by encouraging the leasing of publicly owned properties where feasible for the development of communication facilities; and to acknowledge and provide the community benefit associated with the provision of advanced communication services within the city. (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.020 Definitions.

The technical terms and phrases used in this chapter are defined in Article 9 (Glossary) of this title under “Communications facilities.” (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.030 Applicability.

The location, permit requirements, and other provisions of this chapter shall apply to all communications facilities within the city, except the following, which are exempt from this chapter. All communication facilities shall also comply with all applicable requirements of state and federal law:

A. Replacement or modification of previously permitted facilities or equipment determined by the director to be of a minor nature that does not increase the number or height of antennas or significantly change or enlarge the ancillary related equipment at the site.

B. An antenna that is one meter (39.37 inches) or less in diameter or diagonal measurement, that is designed:

1. To receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, as defined by Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Code of Federal Regulations Title 47, and any interpretive decisions thereof issued by the Federal Communications Commission; or

2. For subscribing to a multipoint distribution service.

C. A satellite earth station (SES) antenna of two meters (78.74 inches) or less in diameter or diagonal measurement, located in a commercial or industrial zoning district, that is designed to transmit or receive radio communications by satellite or terrestrial communications antenna. These antennas may require a building permit and approval of the placement by the director to ensure maximum safety is maintained. In order to avoid tripping hazards and the creation of an attractive nuisance, these antennas shall be placed whenever possible, on the top of buildings as far from the edge of rooftops as possible. (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.040 Permit requirements.

A. Use Permit or Minor Use Permit. Use permit approval is required for all communication facilities subject to this chapter, except for the following, which shall require minor use permit approval. The director shall ensure through the minor use permit approval that each of the following facilities complies with all applicable requirements of this chapter. The director may also choose to defer action and refer any of the following facilities to the commission for consideration as a use permit application:

1. An antenna that is installed, placed, and maintained under the roofline of an existing structure, or above, behind, and below an existing approved roof screen and does not extend above the highest point of the structure, or is camouflaged within an existing structure so as not to be visible from a public right-of-way or other property;

2. A communication facility in which the antenna is mounted on a mast less than ten feet high, is not located on an historic structure, and is not visible from a public right-of-way;

3. An amateur and/or citizens band antenna operated by a person holding a license issued by the FCC in compliance with 47 C.F.R. Part 97, and used solely in connection with that license, and which shall be subject to the “minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the local authority’s legitimate purpose,” in keeping with the order of the FCC known as “PRB-1,” FCC 85-506, released September 19, 1985; provided that there shall be no more than one antenna support structure on a single parcel and that the antenna structure complies with the height limits of the applicable zoning district.

B. Application Requirements. In addition to the information required for use permit or minor use permit application by Chapter 17.60 (Permit Application Filing and Processing) of this title the application for a communication facility shall include:

1. Certification acceptable to the director that the proposed facility will at all times comply with all applicable health requirements and standards pertaining to electromagnetic and/or radio frequency radiation; and

2. A report, as required by the police department, to evaluate the potential for interference (e.g., HF, UHF, VHF, eight hundred mHz). The applicant shall be responsible for paying any costs incurred by the city, including the costs of retaining consultants, to review and analyze the report.

C. Master Use Permit. A service provider who intends to establish multiple wireless telecommunications facilities within the city is encouraged to apply for the approval of all facilities under a master use permit. Under this approach, all proposed facilities may be acted upon by the city as a single application, ensuring feasibility of long range company projections.

D. Communications Consultant May Be Required. In the event that the city needs assistance in understanding the technical aspects of a particular proposal, the services of a communications consultant may be requested to determine the engineering or screening requirements of establishing a specific wireless communications facility. This service will be provided at the applicant’s expense.

E. Required Findings for Approval. The approval of a use permit for a communication facility shall require that the review authority first make the following findings, in addition to those required for use permit approval by Section 17.62.050 (Use permit and minor use permit) of this title:

1. The communication facility complies with all applicable requirements of this chapter; and

2. The communication facility will not adversely impact the character and aesthetics of any public right-of-way. (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.050 Limitations on location.

A. Zoning District Priorities. A communication facility shall be not be approved or located within other than the PF (public facility) zoning district; except that the review authority may approve a facility within an industrial district if it first determines that the applicant has demonstrated that all PF zoning district options are infeasible, and that there is no site within a PF district where the communication facility would provide adequate coverage.

B. Co-Location Required. A new communication facility shall be co-located with existing facilities and with other planned new facilities whenever feasible, and whenever determined by the review authority to be aesthetically desirable. A service provider shall co-locate a new communication facility with noncommunications facilities (e.g., light standards, water tanks, and other utility structures) where the review authority determines that this co-location will minimize the overall visual impact.

1. A service provider shall exhaust all reasonable measures to co-locate their communications facilities on existing towers or with or within existing ancillary support equipment facilities before applying for a new communication facility site.

2. Each service provider shall provide the city with evidence that they have contacted all other potential providers who have, or who are reasonably likely to be installing facilities within the vicinity of the proposed facility and have offered to participate in a joint installation project on reasonable terms.

3. In order to facilitate co-location, use permit conditions of approval for a new facility shall require each service provider to cooperate in the siting of equipment and antennas to accommodate the maximum number of operators at a given site where determined by the review authority to be feasible and aesthetically desirable.

C. Siting on Historically Significant Structures Prohibited. No communication facility shall be sited on a structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the California Register, identified as an historic structure in a local historic survey or registry or as determined by a qualified architectural historian as having significant historic contribution to the area.

D. City-Owned Property. A communication facility shall not adversely affect the public health, peace, safety or welfare. In order to best benefit the citizens of Cotati from this necessary community impact, the commission shall always consider city-owned sites as the highest priority for the location of communication facilities. (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.060 Facility design and development standards.

Each proposed communication facility shall comply with all of the following standards:

A. Facility Placement.

1. Standards for All Facilities.

a. A communication facility located on the roof of a structure that complies with applicable height limits shall be set back from the nearest roof edge the equivalent of the height of the tower or a minimum of ten feet, whichever is greater.

b. A ground-mounted communication facility (including towers and antennas) shall be set back from the property line at a ratio of two horizontal feet for every one foot in height.

c. A tower or antenna shall be set back from any site boundary or public right-of-way by a minimum of twenty-five feet, and shall be located so as to not be readily visible from the nearest residentially zoned property. No part of any tower shall extend into a required front setback or beyond a property line of the site.

d. Communication facilities other than towers and antennas shall be located either within a structure, underground, in a rear yard (not visible from a public right-of-way) or on a screened rooftop area. A ground-mounted facility that is located within a front or side setback or within a public right-of-way shall be underground so that the facility will not detract from the image or appearance of the city.

2. Facilities Within Industrial Districts. Communications facilities, including towers, located within an industrial zoning district shall also comply with the following standards:

a. A minimum distance of five hundred feet shall be provided between towers, and there shall be no more than two towers on a single assessor’s parcel or developed site, unless the towers are located on a public facility as described in subsection (A)(1) of this section.

b. A service provider shall not locate more than one antenna in any one neighborhood or location unless additional antennas are approved by the commission.

c. Communication facilities shall not be visible to residential dwelling units.

B. Height Limitations.

1. All ground-mounted communication equipment, antennas, poles, or towers shall be of a minimum functional height.

2. The height of tower located on the ground shall not exceed sixty feet in the PF (public facilities) zoning district and thirty-five feet in an industrial zoning district.

3. The height of a communications facility located on a structure other than a dedicated support tower shall not exceed fifteen feet above the highest point of the structure and shall at no time exceed the height allowed by the subject zoning district.

4. An antenna mounted on the side of a structure shall not extend above the structure’s parapet so that it is visible from below against the sky.

C. Colors and Materials. All antennas, poles, towers, or equipment, including ancillary support equipment, shall have a nonreflective finish and shall be painted or otherwise treated to match or blend with the primary background and minimize visual impacts. Antennas attached to a structure shall be painted or otherwise treated to match the exterior of the structure or the antenna’s background color. All ground-mounted equipment shall be covered with a clear anti-graffiti type material of a type approved by the director or shall be adequately secured to prevent graffiti.

D. Screening, Landscaping. All ground-mounted equipment, antennas, poles, or towers shall be sited to be screened by existing development, topography, or vegetation. Ground-mounted facilities shall be located within structures, underground, or in areas where substantial screening by existing structures or vegetation can be achieved. Additional new vegetation or other screening may be required by the director or by the commission. The applicant shall use the smallest and least visible antennas possible to accomplish the owner/operator’s coverage objectives.

E. Additional Screening and Landscaping. As part of project review, the director, the commission, or the council (on appeal) may require additional screening and/or landscaping, undergrounding, an alternative color scheme, or relocation of a tower or ancillary equipment to a less obtrusive area of the site where it would have a less prominent visual presence due to slope, topography, size, or relationship to public rights-of-way.

F. Power Lines. All power lines to and within a communication facility site shall be underground.

G. Backup Power Supplies. A backup power supply (i.e., generator) located in an industrial zoning district shall be enclosed within a structure and operated in compliance with subsection D of this section. In any zoning district, ancillary power supplies and fuel storage tanks to support backup power supplies shall require use permit approval. (Ord. 775 § 1, 2005; Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.070 Operation and maintenance standards.

A. Contact and Site Information. The owner or operator of any facility shall submit and maintain current at all times basic contact and site information. The applicant shall notify the city of any changes to the information submitted within thirty days of any change, including change of the name or legal status of the owner or operator. This information shall include the following:

1. Identity, including name, address, and telephone number, and legal status of the owner of the facility including official identification numbers and FCC certification, and if different from the owner, the identity and legal status of the person or entity responsible for operating the facility;

2. Name, address, and telephone number of a local contact person for emergencies;

3. Type of service provided; and

4. Identification signs, including emergency phone numbers of the utility provider, shall be posted at all communication facility sites.

B. Facility Maintenance. All communication facilities and related equipment, including lighting, fences, shields, cabinets, and poles shall be maintained in good repair, free from trash, debris, litter, graffiti, and other forms of vandalism, and any damage from any cause shall be repaired as soon as reasonably possible so as to minimize occurrences of dangerous conditions or visual blight. Graffiti shall be removed by the service provider from any facility or equipment as soon as practicable, and in no instances more than forty-eight hours from the time of notification by the city.

C. Landscaping Maintenance. All trees, foliage, and other landscaping elements on a communication facility site, whether or not used as screening, shall be maintained in good condition at all times in compliance with the approved landscape plan. The facility owner or operator shall be responsible for replacing any damaged, dead, or decayed landscaping as promptly as reasonably possible. Amendments or modifications to the landscape plan shall be submitted for approval to the director or to the design review board. The commission may also require a landscape maintenance agreement.

D. Noise. Each communication facility shall be operated so as to minimize the generation of noise that is audible from off the site. Backup generators shall only be operated during periods of power outages, and shall not be tested on weekends or holidays, or between the hours of ten p.m. and seven a.m. on weekday nights. At no time shall equipment noise from any source exceed an exterior noise level of sixty decibels at the property line.

E. Site Inspection Required. Each owner or operator of a facility shall routinely and regularly inspect each site to ensure compliance with the standards identified in this chapter.

F. Exterior Lighting. Any exterior lighting shall be manually operated and used only during night maintenance or emergencies, unless otherwise required by applicable federal law or FCC rules. The lighting shall be constructed or located so that only the intended area is illuminated and off-site glare is fully controlled. Light fixtures shall be low wattage, hooded, and downward directed. (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).

17.44.080 Discontinuance and site restoration.

All equipment associated with a communication facility shall be removed within thirty days of the discontinuance of the use and the site shall be restored to its original preconstruction condition, to the approval of the director. The service provider shall provide the city with a notice of intent to vacate a site a minimum of thirty days before site vacation. This removal requirement, and appropriate bonding requirements, shall be included in the terms of a lease for a facility on public property. A private lease for a facility located on private property is encouraged to include terms for equipment removal, since the property owner shall be ultimately responsible for removal of the equipment. (Ord. 766 § 2 Exh. A (part), 2004).