Chapter 15.50


15.50.010    Purpose.

15.50.015    Applicability and exemptions.

15.50.020    Definitions.

15.50.025    Site location of wireless communication facilities.

15.50.030    Development standards.

15.50.035    Design standards.

15.50.040    Permitting process.

15.50.045    Abandonment and removal.

15.50.050    Fees and penalties.

15.50.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Lewis County, to ensure that permitting of wireless communication services is consistent with the Lewis County building code, comprehensive plan and associated development regulations, and to:

(1) Strongly promote and encourage collocation of new and existing wireless communications antennas to minimize the total number of support structures and towers throughout the county;

(2) Encourage the location of support towers and antenna arrays in nonresidential and nonschool zones; and

(3) Encourage careful design, siting, and landscape screening in development of new wireless communication facilities in relation to residential and school zone areas and vistas. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.015 Applicability and exemptions.

(1) Applicability. All wireless telecommunications facilities which are not exempt pursuant to this section shall conform to the standards specified in this chapter.

(2) Exemptions. The following are exempt from the provisions of this chapter and shall be allowed in all zones:

(a) Wireless communication facilities which were legally established prior to the effective date of this chapter.

(b) Temporary wireless communication facilities used for temporary emergency communications in the event of a disaster, emergency preparedness, and public health or safety purposes;

(c) Two-way communication transmitters used for temporary or emergency services including, but not limited to fire, police, and ambulance services;

(d) Licensed amateur (Ham) radio stations and citizen band stations;

(e) Any maintenance or repair of previously approved wireless communication facilities provided that such activity does not increase height, width, or mass of the facility;

(f) Roof-mounted dish antennas used for residential purposes, and VHF and UHF receive-only television antennas, provided they are 15 feet or less above the existing or proposed roof of the associated residential structures.

(g) The installation and use of an antenna or antennas smaller than one meter in diameter, or one meter in any direction, for use by a private dwelling occupant for personal, home occupation, utility monitoring or private telecommunications purposes. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.020 Definitions.

Terms used in this chapter shall have the following meanings:

(1) “Administrator” means the director of the community development department of his/her designee.

(2) “Antenna array” means one or more rods, panels, discs or similar devices used as antennas for the transmission or reception of radio frequency signals. The antennas may include omni-directional, directional or parabolic types of antennae. The antenna array does not include the support structure or support tower, defined below.

(3) [Reserved.]

(4) “Auxiliary support equipment” means all equipment necessary and/or desirable to process wireless communication signals and data, including but not limited to, electronic processing devices, air conditioning, emergency generators, and cabling interface devices. For the purposes of this chapter, auxiliary equipment shall also include the shelter, cabinets, and other structural facilities used to house and shelter necessary equipment. Auxiliary equipment does not include support towers or structures.

(5) “Camouflage” means the use of both existing and future technology through which a wireless communications facility (WCF) is designed and constructed to resemble an object that is not a WCF and which is typically present in the environment.

(6) “Collocation” means use of a common wireless communications support structure or tower by two or more wireless license holders for two or more antenna arrays.

(7) “Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)” means the federal regulatory agency responsible for the safety of the nation’s air traffic control system, including airspace impacted by wireless communications support structures and towers.

(8) “Federal Communications Commission (FCC)” means the federal regulatory agency charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

(9) “Height” means when referring to a wireless communications facility, height shall mean the distance measured from the original grade at the base of the tower to the highest point on the support tower or structure, including the antenna(s). This measurement shall not include any lightning rods or other inactive devices less than eight feet in length intended solely to ground or otherwise protect the facility.

(10) “Infrastructure provider” means an applicant whose proposal includes only the construction of new support towers or auxiliary structures to be subsequently utilized by other service providers.

(11) “Microcell” means a wireless communications facility consisting of an antenna that is either:

(a) Four feet in height and with an area of not more than 580 square inches; or

(b) If a tubular antenna, no more than four inches in diameter and no more than six feet in length.

(12) “Monopole” means a support tower composed of a single spire used to support one or more antenna(s).

(13) “Radiofrequency (RF) energy” means the energy used by cellular telephones, telecommunications facilities, and other wireless communications devices to transmit and receive voice, video and other data information.

(14) “Residential area or district” means any area or district which has as its primary purpose single or multi-family residences.

(15) “Setback” means the required distance from any structural part of a wireless communication facility (including support wires, support attachments, auxiliary support equipment and security fencing) to either the property line of the parent parcel on which the wireless communication facility is located or to the nearest residence or school, depending on location.

(16) “School zone or property” means any zone or property containing public or private elementary or secondary school facilities whose primary purpose is schooling or education.

(17) “Support structure” means an existing building or other structure to which an antenna is or will be attached, including, but not limited to, buildings, steeples, water towers, and signs. Support structures do not include support towers or any building or structure used for residential purposes.

(18) “Support tower” means a structure designed and constructed exclusively to support a wireless communication facility or an antenna array, including monopoles, self-supporting towers, guy-wire support tower, and other similar structures.

(19) “Temporary wireless communication facility (temporary WCF)” means any wireless communication facility which is to be placed in use for not more than 60 days, is not deployed in a permanent manner, and does not have a permanent foundation.

(20) “Urban” includes all development contained within areas characterized and mapped under the Lewis County comprehensive plan as having “urban growth” as defined in RCW 36.70A.030(17): including, but not limited to, urban growth areas-city/county; Small Towns-Mixed Use/Commercial; and Small Towns-Residential under the current Lewis County comprehensive plan and LCC Title 17 development regulation designations. “Urban residential” includes all residential development contained within such mapped and designated areas.

(21) “Utility pole placement/replacement” means placement of antennas or antenna arrays on existing or replaced structures such as utility poles, light standards, and light poles for streets and parking lots. Utility pole replacements shall not be considered new support towers.

(22) “Wildlife habitat or priority habitat” means Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Priority Habitats and Species Recommendations for Species and Habitats, listed in Chapter 232-12 WAC, or federally designated threatened or endangered species habitats legally applicable to Lewis County.

(23) “Wireless communications” shall mean any personal wireless services as defined by the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, including cellular, personal communications services (PCS), specialized mobile radio (SMR), enhanced specialized mobile radio (ESMR), paging, and similar FCC licensed commercial wireless telecommunications services that currently exist or that may in the future be developed.

(24) “Wireless communications facility (WCF)” means any unstaffed facility for the transmission and/or reception of radio frequency (RF) signals, which includes, but is not limited to, all auxiliary support equipment, any support tower or structure used to achieve the necessary elevation for the antenna, transmission and reception cabling and devices, and all antenna arrays. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.025 Site location of wireless communication facilities.

(1) Location Priorities. New wireless communications facilities shall be in conformance with all applicable standards as provided by this chapter. Facility preferences are listed in descending order with the highest preference first.

(a) Collocation with legally existing WCFs on support structures or support towers in nonresidential and nonschool zone areas;

(b) Collocation with legally existing WCFs on support structures or support towers in residential and school zone areas;

(c) New attached WCFs on support structures not currently used for other WCFs, in nonresidential and nonschool zone areas;

(d) New attached WCFs on support structures not currently used for other WCFs, in residential and school zone areas;

(e) New support towers.

(2) Lease Areas.

(a) Lease areas for new support towers shall be created in accordance with state and county platting laws, as applicable, or shall be created by binding site plan in accordance with RCW 58.17.035 and LCC Title 16.

(b) Except as otherwise required in this chapter, lease areas for new support towers shall be exempt from all lot standards of any zone in which they are permitted.

(3) Zoning Requirements. Not withstanding the siting preferences recommended under subsections (1)(a) through (e) of this section, wireless communications facilities are permitted in all county zones, within and without the urban growth areas, consistent with the provisions of this chapter and, in particular, the development and design standards under LCC 15.50.030 and 15.50.035. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.030 Development standards.

(1) Collocation.

(a) The county shall deny an application for a new support tower if the applicant does not demonstrate a good faith effort to collocate on an existing facility. Applicants for new support towers shall demonstrate to the planning director that collocation is not feasible by showing that at least one of the following conditions exists:

(i) No existing towers or structures are located within the applicant’s projected or planned service area for their facility; or

(ii) Existing towers or structures do not meet minimum structural specifications or cannot be reconfigured to achieve sufficient height for efficient and effective operations; or

(iii) Collocation would cause a nonconformance situation (e.g., exceeding height restrictions); or

(iv) Collocation would result in electronic, electromagnetic or other radio frequency interference with existing or proposed installations; or

(v) A reasonable financial arrangement between the applicant and the owner(s) of existing facilities could not be reached.

(b) Carriers who collocate on existing towers or structures shall be allowed to construct or install accessory equipment and shelters as required for facility operation. Such development shall be subject to regulations under the International Building Code (IBC), applicable development standards of the underlying zone, and applicable development standards pursuant to this chapter (e.g., lighting, security, signage).

(c) All new support towers allowed under this chapter shall be designed for, and the owner shall not deny, collocation of public safety communications equipment at fair market value or other cost agreed by the parties in order to mitigate wireless communication interference with public safety communications.

(2) New Support Towers. The following standards shall apply to new support towers:

(a) All new support towers shall accommodate collocation opportunities for a minimum total of two antenna arrays. A height bonus of up to 20 percent of the maximum tower height allowed in LCC 15.50.060(A)(2)(a) is allowed with one or more additionally proposed antenna arrays if the screening requirements of LCC 15.50.060(A)(2)(b) are met.

(b) A support tower owner approved under this chapter shall not deny a wireless provider the ability to collocate on their facility at a fair market rate or at another cost basis agreed to by the affected parties.

(c) New support tower installations shall be a minimum of 1,000 feet from designated scenic highways located outside of incorporated areas within the county.

(d) New support towers shall be a minimum of 1,000 feet from all sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places;

(e) New support towers within a 1,000 feet of a priority habitat or endangered/threatened species area shall be reviewed for possible impacts to fish and wildlife.

(f) New support towers within one mile of any public safety building such as a police or fire station shall be reviewed with Lewis County Emergency Services and Emergency Management for possible interference with public safety communications.

(g) Final site plan approval for support towers shall not be issued to infrastructure providers until one or more wireless communications service providers that are to use the support tower have been identified to the county.

(3) Utility pole placement/replacement. Placement of antennas or antenna arrays on existing structures such as utility poles, light standards, and light poles for street and parking lots shall be encouraged. Utility pole replacement proposals shall not be considered new support towers, and parcel size, setback, landscaping, and screening requirements of this chapter shall not apply. Utility pole replacements are subject to the following:

(a) The existing structure may be replaced with a similar diameter pole not exceeding 15 additional feet in height. Such increase in height shall only be allowed for the first replacement on the pole.

(b) The pole extension may not exceed the diameter of the pole at the mounting point for the antennas.

(c) For placement or replacement in the public rights-of-way, auxiliary support equipment shall be mounted on the pole or placed underground. No at-grade support equipment is permitted within the public right-of-way.

(d) Replacements in public rights-of-way are specifically subject to the applicable provisions of Chapter 12.20 LCC (Utilities Installations Within Rights-of-Way.), and Chapters 12.40 and 12.45 LCC (Telecommunications).

(4) Signage. Wireless communication towers and antenna(s) shall not be used for signage, symbols, flags, banners, nor other devices or objects attached to, designed into or painted on any portion of a WCF except: emergency information, public safety warnings, and any additional signage required by a governmental agency shall be displayed in an appropriate manner.

(5) Noise. Wireless communication facilities shall not generate noise levels in excess of maximum standards set forth in Chapter 173-60 WAC. Generators may be operated only 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 mitigation measures. This may require noise attenuation devices or other technical or physical measures to minimize noise levels. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.035 Design standards.

(1) Height. The following height restrictions for new WCFs shall apply:

(a) Support Structures. Attached WCFs shall not add more than 15 feet in height to the support structure (including utility pole replacements) to which they are attached.

(b) New Support Towers. New support tower heights are limited to the following:

(i) In rural areas the maximum height shall be 150 feet.

(ii) In urban nonresidential and nonschool zone areas the maximum height shall be 120 feet.

(iii) In urban residential and school zone areas the maximum height shall be 85 feet.

(iv) In all areas, antennas or antenna arrays shall not add more than 15 feet in height to the support tower to which they are attached.

(c) Tower height may be increased as a height bonus of up to 20 percent if 80 percent of the total tower height is screened; provided, however, that vegetation which causes interference with antennae may be trimmed without loss of the height bonus.

(2) Setbacks.

(a) All new support towers in rural areas shall maintain a minimum 50-foot setback from the property line of the parent parcel or a distance equal to or greater than the tower height from the nearest residence or school facility on adjacent parcels, whichever is greater.

(b) All new support towers in urban areas shall maintain a setback equal to or greater than the tower height from the nearest residence or school facility on adjacent parcels.

(c) Setbacks for auxiliary structures shall be those of the underlying zoning district or a minimum of 25 feet, whichever is greater.

(3) Landscaping and Screening.

(a) A landscaping and screening plan, as applicable, shall be submitted with all new support tower applications.

(b) Screening. For new towers within 1,000 feet of scenic highways, sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a priority habitat or endangered/threatened species area, or urban residential and school zone areas, the following shall be required:

(i) Screening of new towers with tower-obscuring vegetation or with existing structures or topography is preferred.

(ii) If subsection (3)(b)(i) of this section cannot be reasonably complied with, new support towers shall be screened with vegetation appropriate to the site. Such vegetation shall consist of native tree species which will reach a height of 30 feet or more (and having a plant-maturity of six years at the time of transplanting to the site) and be substantially opaque year round. The screening shall be permanently maintained.

(c) All new support towers and associated structures shall be fully enclosed within a minimum six-foot high security fence, at all times gated and locked; except, that fencing and buffering are not required on any site side where fencing can intersect an existing structure, which is the functional equivalent to fencing and buffering for access-control and minimum height. For new towers within 1,000 feet of scenic highways, sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a priority habitat or endangered/threatened species area, or urban residential and school zone areas, a minimum five-foot landscape, vegetative buffer shall be established surrounding the enclosure; except, that a landscaped berm may be substituted for the required vegetation buffer. The required landscaping shall be permanently maintained.

(4) Color. For all new wireless communications facilities, the following criteria shall apply:

(a) Unless otherwise required by the FAA, all support towers and antennas shall have a nonglare finish and blend with the natural background.

(b) Attached WCF’s shall be of a neutral color that matches the color of the supporting structure to the greatest extent to minimize visual impacts.

(5) Lighting. Except as required by the FAA, artificial lighting of wireless communications towers shall be prohibited. When allowed under FAA regulations, white strobe lighting of wireless communications towers shall be timed or photocell-controlled to operate only during daylight conditions; red strobe lighting is permissible at all times. Security lighting for equipment shelters or cabinets and other on-the-ground auxiliary equipment is allowed, as long as lighting utilizes “cut-off” type fixtures and is down-shielded to keep direct light within the site boundaries.

(6) Variances. Any applicant may request a variance under the design standards of this chapter. Requests for variance shall be made in writing to the Lewis County hearing examiner in accordance with the procedures and criteria specified in the LCC 17.160.040 (Variances). Appeal may be taken in accordance with LCC 15.50.040(3). The applicant shall demonstrate, in addition to the above criteria, the following:

(a) Strict adherence to the provisions of this chapter will result in an inability of the applicant to provide adequate WCF services within Lewis County; and

(b) The granting of the variance will not adversely affect views from designated scenic highways or recognized areas of historic or cultural significance. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.040 Permitting process.

Applications for the locating and development of wireless communications facilities, and permit approval shall include the following:

(1) Application content for all facilities:

(a) A narrative demonstrating how the proposal meets the criteria in the above sections involving Site Location, Development Standards, and Design Standards.

(b) A comprehensive description of the existing or proposed facilities including the technical reasons for the design and configuration of the facility, design and dimensional information, coverage schemes, and the capability of future collocation opportunities.

(c) Documentation that establishes the applicant’s right to use the site shall be provided at the time of application by a copy of the proposed lease agreement, easement agreement or license agreement; or, in the alternative, a copy of a recorded memorandum of lease (or other agreement) between the parcel owner(s) and the applicant.

(d) If camouflage technology is proposed, the applicant shall provide a complete description of the suggested camouflage, including style and materials to be used, a photographic depiction of the proposed facility, and a maintenance plan detailing provisions for the continued effectiveness of the suggested camouflage for the life of the facility.

(e) An analysis of the proposal area and discussion of factors influencing the decision to target the proposed location. Such analysis shall include the good faith efforts and measures taken to secure a higher priority location; how and why such efforts were unsuccessful; and how and why the proposed site is essential to meet service demands for the geographic service area.

(f) The application materials shall include a photographic analysis of the proposed site, including a representation of existing conditions and photographic simulations depicting views of any new support structures or towers.

(g) Any additional applicable information the administrator deems necessary to adequately review the proposal.

(2) Additionally, application content for new support towers:

(a) A site plan, which in addition to the relevant tower descriptions above-noted, clearly indicates the location of the proposed facility in relation to:

(i) Significant features within 1,000 feet including, but not limited to, existing and/or proposed site structures, public rights-of way, residential developments (i.e., subdivisions, master planned communities, and urban residential areas), adjacent land uses, and properties used for public purposes;

(ii) Governmental jurisdictional boundaries within 500 feet of the proposal boundaries; and

(iii) Priority habitat and endangered/threatened species habitat areas within a 1,000 feet as mapped or defined by the state or federal Departments of Fish and Wildlife.

(b) Elevation drawings of the proposed site and facility, including the tower, equipment structures, antennas, mounts and, if applicable, any existing structures, if deemed relevant for screening or analyses. Other applicable features, including but not limited to security fencing and screening shall be included.

(c) Proposals for new support towers shall include a detailed landscaping and screening plan, including existing and proposed vegetation, installation procedures, and landscaping/screening maintenance plans.

(d) Applicants shall present an analysis of existing WCF’s within the intended service area, describing the status of collocation opportunities at these sites. The county may deny a new support tower proposal if future collocation is not provided or if the applicant is unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the administrator that collocation on an existing tower is not feasible within the intended service area.

(e) The application materials shall include a report stamped, dated and signed by a licensed professional engineer registered in the State of Washington demonstrating the following:

(i) The facility complies with all requirements of the International Building Code;

(ii) The structural capability of the facility will support collocated antennas (if applicable);

(iii) The facility complies with all applicable standards of the FAA and FCC, including RF energy standards.

(iv) The basis for the calculation of capacities.

(f) The location of new support towers in relation to any national wildlife refuge.

(g) Applicants shall provide evidence of compliance with FAA requirements at the time of application.

(h) All applicable fees are paid at the time of application submission.

(3) Application review and appeal.

(a) All wireless communications facility applications shall be heard in an open record hearing by the Lewis County hearing examiner pursuant to Chapter 2.25 LCC for both building permit and construction standards review under this chapter.

(b) Upon receipt of an application under either subsections (1) or (2) of this section, the county shall notify all property owners abutting or within 300 feet of the property which is the subject of the permit, to notify them of the proceeding and of their right to participate. State and federal agencies overseeing affected scenic highways, priority habitat or historic places, noted under LCC 15.50.030(2), shall also receive notice. The notice of the proceeding shall also be published in the newspaper of record, at the applicant’s expense.

(c) The hearing examiner may condition such wireless communications facility approval based on written recommendations in environmental documents, and as otherwise necessary to comply with the requirements of this chapter, the county comprehensive plan, development regulations, and environmental regulations.

(d) The hearing examiner shall issue a decision which shall be final for County purposes. Any party aggrieved by the decision of the hearing examiner, with standing as provided by Chapter 36.70C RCW, LIRA, may appeal such decision pursuant to LCC 2.25.140, with further appeal to superior court pursuant to Chapter 2.25 LCC.

(4) Temporary WCFs. In order to facilitate continuity of services during maintenance or repair of existing installations, or prior to completion of construction of a new WCF, temporary wireless communication facilities shall be allowed subject to administrator review. Temporary WCFs shall not be in place or in use in excess of 180 days at any one location during any given 12-month period. Temporary WCF’s shall not have a permanent foundation, and shall be removed within 30 days of suspension of services they provide or with lapse of the 12 months, whichever is the earlier. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.045 Abandonment and removal.

WCF’s no longer providing regular service shall be completely removed by the property owner and/or service provider within 180 days from the date of either use or operation discontinuation, and the site shall be revegetated. The owner shall then report in writing such discontinuance of service within 14 days to the administrator. If such WCF is not removed within the 180-day period, the county may remove the WCF at the owner’s expense in the same manner as provided for in Chapter 12.20 LCC. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]

15.50.050 Fees and penalties.

(1) Fees for permit applications, variances and appeals under this chapter shall be as set forth in LCC Title 18 and the Lewis County schedule of fees. The schedule of fees is established by local resolution on file with the board of county commissioners and referenced under LCC Title 18.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation, or association, or agent thereof, to violate any provision of these regulations. Any such person or other such party who violates any provision of these regulations are required thereunder shall be subject to the penalties and provisions of Chapter 1.20 LCC, and as follows:

(a) Criminal Penalty. Any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or other entity violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to the penalties in LCC 1.20.020.

(b) Violations a Public Nuisance. The following are hereby declared to be unlawful and a public nuisance:

(i) Any development or construction which is contrary to the provisions of this chapter;

(ii) Any work done or action taken with respect to any development or construction, or product thereof, which is contrary to the provisions of this chapter; and

(iii) Any violation of any provision of this chapter.

(c) The administrator or county code compliance officer shall take steps to abate public nuisances as defined herein. The prosecuting attorney may also commence an action or actions, proceeding or proceedings for the abatement, removal, or enjoinment of public nuisances as defined herein. The power hereby granted to abate a public nuisance shall be construed broadly.

(d) Cumulative Civil Penalty. In addition to, or as an alternative to, any other penalty provided herein or by law, any person, firm, or corporation which violates the provisions of this chapter or violates the provisions of regulations adopted by reference in this chapter shall incur a cumulative civil penalty as set forth in LCC 1.20.040(1)(6)(v), except that such cumulative penalty shall be $200.00 per day:

(i) For good cause shown, the administrator may extend the date set for correction in the notice of violation; provided, that such an extension shall not affect or extend the time within which an administrative appeal must be commenced.

(ii) Collection of Civil Penalty. The prosecuting attorney on behalf of the county is authorized to collect the civil penalty by use of appropriate legal remedies, the seeking or granting of which shall neither stay nor terminate the accrual of additional per diem penalties so long as the violation continues.

(e) Stop work orders shall mean a written notice signed by the administrator that is posted on the site of an unlawful construction activity or development which states that a violation of this chapter has occurred, and that all unlawful activity or development, except for removal of WCFs, is to immediately cease until and unless notice is thereafter given by the administrator to proceed. A stop work order may be issued whenever there is reason to believe that there is a violation of the provisions of this chapter. Failure to immediately abide by the stop work order may result in issuance of a notice of civil penalty or initiation of enforcement actions, as noted in this section.

(f) Compromise, Settlement and Disposition of Suit. The prosecuting attorney is hereby authorized to enter into negotiations with the parties or their legal representatives named in a lawsuit for the collection of civil penalties to negotiate a settlement, compromise, or otherwise dispose of a lawsuit when to do so will be in the best interest of the county. [Ord. 1177A §2, 2001]