Chapter 18.10


18.10.010    General provisions.

18.10.020    Definitions.

18.10.030    Permit required.

18.10.040    Application requirements.

18.10.050    Permit conditions.

18.10.060    Permit enforcement.

18.10.070    Prioritized locations.

18.10.080    Development standards.

18.10.090    Electromagnetic field (EMF) standards compliance.

18.10.100    Facility removal.

18.10.010 General provisions.

A. This chapter addresses the issues of location and appearance associated with wireless communication facilities (“WCFs”). It provides adequate siting opportunities through a wide range of locations and options which minimize safety hazards and visual impacts sometimes associated with wireless communications technology. The chapter encourages siting of facilities on existing buildings or structures, co-location of several providers’ facilities on a single support structure, and visual mitigation measures to maintain neighborhood appearance and reduce visual clutter in the city.

B. Applicability.

1. Applicability. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all new WCFs located within the boundaries of the city, and for any modification to an existing WCF that is not governed by Chapter 18.11 BIMC; provided, that this chapter shall not apply to small wireless facilities permitted under BIMC Title 19 and subject to Chapter 18.10A BIMC.

2. Permit Required. Any person who desires to place any WCF within the boundaries of the city must apply to the city for the appropriate wireless communication facility permit.

3. Lease Required. In addition to the requirement of obtaining the appropriate wireless communication facility permit, if all or a portion of the WCF will be located upon a city-owned structure, or upon non-right-of-way property which is either city-owned or city-leased, the applicant shall be required to enter into a lease agreement with the city for the use of the city property.

4. Master Permit Required. In addition to the requirement of obtaining the appropriate wireless communication facility permit, if all or a portion of the WCF will be located within the city’s right-of-way, the applicant shall be required to obtain a master permit, consistent with BIMC Title 19, from the city for the use of the city’s right-of-way. (Ord. 2022-09 § 2, 2022; Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words, and abbreviations shall have the meanings given herein. Words not otherwise defined shall have their common and ordinary meaning:

A. “Antenna(s)” means any system of electromagnetically tuned wires, poles, rods, reflecting discs or similar devices used to transmit or receive electromagnetic waves between terrestrial and/or orbital based points, including, but not limited to:

1. Omnidirectional (or “whip”) antenna(s), which transmits and receives radio frequency signals in a 360-degree radial pattern;

2. Directional (or “panel”) antenna(s), which transmits and receives radio frequency signals in a specific directional pattern of less than 360 degrees;

3. Parabolic antenna(s) (or “dish” antenna(s)), which is a bowl-shaped device for the reception and/or transmission of communications signals in a specific directional pattern; and

4. Ancillary antenna(s), which is an antenna less than 12 inches in its largest dimension and is not directly used to provide personal wireless communication services, such as a global positioning satellite (GPS) antenna.

B. “Co-location” means placing and arranging multiple providers’ antennas and equipment on a single support structure or equipment pad area.

C. “Electromagnetic field” or “EMF” means the field produced by the operation of equipment used in transmitting and receiving radio frequency signals.

D. “Equipment facility” means any structure used to house electronic equipment, cooling systems and backup power systems associated with a WCF, including shelters, enclosures, cabinets and other similar structures.

E. “Facility I” means a wireless communication facility consisting of an antenna that is either: (1) four feet or less in height and with an area of not more than 580 square inches in the aggregate; or (2) if a tubular antenna, no more than four inches in diameter and no more than six feet in length.

F. “Facility II” means a wireless communication facility consisting of up to three antennas, each of which is a microcell with associated equipment facilities six feet or less in height and no more than 48 square feet in floor area.

G. “Lattice tower” means a wireless communication support structure that consists of metal crossed strips or bars to support antennas and related equipment.

H. “Monopole” means a wireless communication facility that consists of a support structure, the height of which shall not exceed 120 feet in height not including antennas.

I. “Support structure” means any structure, designed and constructed specifically to support an antenna array, including a monopole, self-supporting (lattice) tower, guy-wire support tower and any other similar structures. Any device (attachment device) used to attach a WCF to an existing structure or building (attachment structure) shall be excluded from the definition of and regulations applicable to support structures.

J. “Wireless communication facility” or “WCF” means an unstaffed facility for the transmission and/or reception of radio frequency, microwave or other signals for commercial communications purposes, including and typically consisting of antennas, equipment facilities, transmission cables, a support structure required to achieve the necessary elevation, and reception and transmission devices and antennas.

K. “Wireless communication services” means commercial mobile services, unlicensed wireless services, and common carrier wireless exchange access services, as defined by federal laws and regulations. (Ord. 2022-09 § 3, 2022; Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.030 Permit required.

A. A wireless communication facility (WCF) permit shall be required for the location, installation or construction of any new WCF, and for any modification to an existing WCF that is not governed by Chapter 18.11 BIMC.

B. The planning and community development department may grant permit approval for:

1. A facility I or II, or a monopole or lattice tower located in a nonresidential zone that does not exceed the maximum building height of the zone established in Chapter 18.12 BIMC; or

2. A facility I or II in a multifamily, business, commercial, or town center zone on an existing building or structure; provided, that the facility is no higher than 15 feet above the existing building or structure or the permitted height for the zone, whichever is higher; or

3. A facility I or II in a residential zone on a nonresidential building or structure; provided, that the facility is no higher than 15 feet above the permitted height in the zone.

C. All other WCFs require conditional use permit review and approval by the city hearing examiner. (Ord. 2022-09 § 4, 2022; Ord. 2017-14 § 4, 2017; Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.040 Application requirements.

All applications for a WCF must include, at a minimum:

A. A diagram or map showing the primary viewshed of the proposed WCF;

B. A map showing the coverage area of the proposed WCF at the requested height;

C. An explanation of the need for the proposed WCF, including an analysis of alternative sites that supports the selected site over other possible locations, particularly locations in a higher priority zone;

D. An inventory of other WCF sites operated by the applicant that are either in the city or within one mile of its borders, including specific information about location, height and design of each facility;

E. A site/landscaping plan showing the specific placement of the WCF on the site; showing the location of existing structures, trees and other significant site features; and indicating type and locations of plant materials used to screen WCF components;

F. Documentation verifying that the proposed WCF complies with any applicable regulations and specifications in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and

G. Applications for facilities other than facility I or facility II shall also contain:

1. Photosimulations of the proposed WCF from affected properties and public rights-of-way at varying distances; and

2. Documentation of efforts to co-locate on existing facilities. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.050 Permit conditions.

Each permit issued by the city shall be conditioned to:

A. Permit term;

B. Require that construction or installation of the WCF must commence within one year from the date of the permit, with opportunity for a one-year extension; otherwise, the permit shall be revoked without further action of the city and the rights and privileges appurtenant to the permit shall be void;

C. Require the permittee to allow co-location of proposed WCFs on the permittee’s site, unless the permittee establishes to the city’s satisfaction that co-location will technically impair the existing permitted use(s) to a substantial degree;

D. Require the permittee to maintain the WCF in a state of good repair and to maintain or replace, if necessary, vegetation and landscaping required as a condition of approving the permit;

E. Require the permittee to notify the city of any sale, transfer, assignment of a site or WCF within 60 days of such event; and

F. Require the permittee to comply with the provisions of this title and all other applicable city ordinances and rules and regulations. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.060 Permit enforcement.

The planning and community development director, or that officer’s designee, shall enforce the provisions of this chapter under the code enforcement provisions of the Bainbridge Island Municipal Code. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.070 Prioritized locations.

The following sites are prioritized in order of preference for locating proposed WCFs and permits shall be issued so that WCFs will be located on the highest priority site feasible:

A. Co-location.

B. Public buildings and structures located in nonresidential zones.

C. Buildings and structures in business and commercial zoned sites used for research and development, commercial and business uses.

D. Buildings and structures in residential zones not used entirely for residential use; provided, that WCFs will not be sited on vacant residential lots. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.080 Development standards.

All WCFs shall be constructed or installed according to the following development standards:

A. WCFs must comply with applicable Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), state, and city regulations and standards;

B. Antennas shall be located, mounted and designed so that visual and aesthetic impacts upon surrounding land uses and structures are minimized, and so that they blend into the existing environment. Panel and parabolic antennas shall be screened from residential views and public rights-of-way;

C. WCFs must be screened or camouflaged employing the best available technology, such as compatible materials, location, color, artificial trees and hollow flagpoles, and other tactics to minimize visibility of the facility from public streets and residential properties.

1. A freestanding WCF shall not be allowed whenever an existing structure can meet technical and network location requirements;

2. Monopoles and lattice towers constructed in accordance with subsection H of this section shall be the only freestanding support structures allowed in the city, and are the preferred structures where any support structure is necessary; provided, that site location and development shall preserve the preexisting character of the site as much as possible;

3. A freestanding WCF shall comply with all required setbacks of the zoning district in which it is located;

4. WCF shall be designed and placed or installed on the site in a manner that takes maximum advantage of existing trees, mature vegetation, and structures by:

a. Using existing site features to screen the WCF from prevalent views; and

b. Using existing site features as a background in a way that the WCF blends into the background;

5. As a condition of permit approval, the city may require the applicant to supplement existing trees and mature vegetation to screen the facility;

6. A WCF shall be painted either in a nonreflective color or in a color scheme appropriate to the background against which the WCF would be viewed from a majority of points within its viewshed, and in either case the color must be approved by the city as part of permit approval;

D. Equipment facilities shall be placed underground if applicable, or, if above ground, shall:

1. Be screened from any street and adjacent property with fencing, walls, landscaping, structures or topography or a combination thereof; and

2. Not be located within required building setback areas;

E. Security fencing shall:

1. Not exceed six feet in height;

2. Be screened from view through the use of appropriate landscaping materials; and

3. If it is a chain-link fence, be camouflaged with appropriate techniques and painted or coated with a nonreflective color;

F. The city shall consider the cumulative visual effects of WCFs mounted on existing structures and/or located on a given permitted site in determining whether the additional permits can be granted so as to not adversely affect the visual character of the city;

G. A WCF shall not be used for mounting signs, billboards or message displays of any kind;

H. In addition to the other development standards of this section, monopoles and lattice towers shall:

1. Require site plan and design review pursuant to BIMC 2.16.040 to balance the potential impacts upon adjoining and surrounding land uses;

2. Be constructed on legally conforming lots;

3. Be integrated through location, design, and color to blend in with the existing site characteristics to the greatest extent practicable. Existing vegetation around the WCF shall be preserved or improved upon to provide vegetative screening over a minimum of two-thirds of the height of the monopole or lattice tower;

4. Be subject to additional screening requirements by the planning director to mitigate visual impacts to adjoining properties or public rights-of-way as determined by site-specific conditions; and

5. Not utilize equipment operated above 45 dB, as measured from the nearest property line on which the attached WCF is located. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.090 Electromagnetic field (EMF) standards compliance.

A. All WCFs shall be operated in compliance with federal standards for EMF emissions. Within six months after the issuance of its operational permit, the applicant shall submit a project implementation report which provides cumulative EMF power densities of all antennas installed at the subject site. The report shall quantify the EMF emissions and compare the results with established federal standards. Said report shall be subject to review and approval by the city for consistency with the project proposal report and the adopted federal standards. If on review the city finds that the WCF does not meet federal standards, the city may revoke or modify the permit. The applicant shall be given a reasonable time based on the nature of the problem to comply with the federal standards. If the permit is revoked, then the facility shall be removed.

B. All WCFs shall be operated in a manner that the WCF will not cause localized interference with the reception of area television or radio broadcasts, garage door openers, portable phones and other similar FCC approved devices. If on review of a registered complaint the city finds that the WCF interferes with such reception, the city may revoke or modify the permit. The applicant shall be given a reasonable time based on the nature of the problem to correct the interference. If the permit is revoked, then the facility shall be removed. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)

18.10.100 Facility removal.

A. A WCF shall be removed within 90 days of the date the site’s use is discontinued, it ceases to be operational, or the permit is revoked; or if the facility falls into disrepair and is not maintained, within 90 days of a notice from the city to effect repairs and maintenance to the satisfaction of the city. The operator of a WCF shall notify the city upon the discontinued use of a particular facility.

B. Should the operator fail to remove the WCF as required herein, and the property owner fails to remove the WCF within 90 days of the date the city notifies the property owner to remove the WCF, then the WCF shall be a nuisance and subject to appropriate legal proceeding. (Ord. 2015-23 § 1, 2015)