Chapter 17.17


17.17.010    Purpose.

17.17.020    Overall performance standards.

17.17.030    Application review time frame.

17.17.040    Additional review procedures.

17.17.010 Purpose.

In order to implement the purposes and policy set forth in the city’s comprehensive plan, this chapter provides design and review procedures for wireless communications facilities. These provisions are intended to provide objective design criteria to assist in minimizing the visually obtrusive impacts which can be associated with wireless communications facilities and to encourage creative approaches in the location and construction of wireless communications facilities. The city shall make every reasonable effort, consistent with any applicable provisions of state or federal law, and the preservation of the city’s health, safety and aesthetic environment, to comply with the federal presumptively reasonable time periods for review of facilities for the deployment of small wireless facilities to the fullest extent possible. (Ord. 1426 § 4 (Exh. A) (part), 2019: Ord. 1403 § 6 (Exh. C) (part), 2017)

17.17.020 Overall performance standards.

A.    Wireless Communication Facilities (WCF) (Attached and Detached). Attached and detached wireless communications facilities other than small cell facilities permitted pursuant to Chapter 5.45 or eligible facilities requests shall meet the following performance standards:

1.    Light Industrial (LI) Zoning. Detached WCFs located within four hundred feet of the Mukilteo Speedway/SR525 in the light industrial (LI) district shall require a conditional use permit.

2.    Separation Distance. In all single-family residential and commercial districts, detached WCFs except for small cell facilities shall be separated by a distance equal to or greater than one thousand three hundred twenty linear feet. WCFs that are colocated upon a single support structure shall count as a single WCF for the purposes of this subsection.

3.    Setbacks. Attached and detached WCFs reviewed under this section shall not be located within any required setback areas; provided, however, the setback requirement for underground facilities shall be a minimum of five feet from any property line, except where:

a.    Structures which exceed forty-five feet in height shall be set back from any lot line five feet more than that specified in the individual zone for every ten feet, or fraction thereof, over forty-five feet of height.

b.    The required setback, as listed above, may be reduced by the planning director, if the applicant can demonstrate to the planning director’s satisfaction that the reduced setback would result in a greater natural vegetative screening of the WCF than would have been provided by meeting the WCF development regulations.

c.    All equipment shelters, cabinets, or other on-the-ground ancillary equipment shall meet the setback requirements of the zone in which located, except that the rear setback requirement may be reduced to five feet if the structure meets all other standards.

4.    Height. In single-family, multifamily residential and public zones the maximum combined height limit shall be sixty feet. In commercial and industrial zones the combined height of the WCF and any support structure shall not exceed eighty-five feet, except when collocation is specifically provided for, the combined height shall not exceed one hundred feet. The applicant shall demonstrate a justification for the proposed height of the structures and an evaluation of alternative designs, which might result in lower heights. Utility poles, streetlights and traffic signals may be exempted from the height limitation at the discretion of the planning director. If additional height over that allowed in the zone is justified, it may be allowed through the conditional use permit process. Due to the proximity of Paine Field Airport to the city, all WCFs shall be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Snohomish County Airport at Paine Field to ensure that the facilities are not located within the airport’s restricted airspace.

5.    Landscaping. Equipment shelters and cabinets and other on-the-ground ancillary equipment shall be screened using Type I and ten feet of Type III landscaping around the enclosure in accordance with the requirements contained in Chapter 17.58, Landscaping, of the Mukilteo Municipal Code. Support structures shall be landscaped using Type I screening around the compound’s perimeter. Trees with significant height and fullness upon maturity shall also be used to visually screen the tower from adjacent properties.

6.    Lighting. Except as specifically requested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and/or the Snohomish County Airport at Paine Field, transmission structures shall not be illuminated, except transmitter equipment shelters may use lighting for security reasons as long as the light is shielded downward to remain within the boundaries of the site.

7.    Concealment Technology. All WCFs shall employ concealment technology in their design, construction, and maintenance and reduce the WCFs’ aesthetic impacts to the maximum extent possible. Such concealment technology shall include, at a minimum, the following:

a.    All antenna support structures and antennas shall be painted a nonreflective color, approved by the planning director, which blends into the nearby surroundings of the WCF so as to minimize the visual impact of the support structure or antennas.

b.    New antenna support structures shall be located in such a manner that existing trees on the site are used to screen the WCF from view from roadways, residences, and other properties; provided, however, that all WCFs shall be designed in a manner which minimizes the need for removal of existing trees.

c.    To the maximum extent possible, WCFs shall be designed to resemble an object other than a WCF which is already present in the local environment, such as a tree, a streetlight or a traffic signal. It may include the use of colors or materials to blend into the building materials from which a structure is constructed. Examples of concealment technology include, but are not limited to, the use of innovative site design techniques, existing or new vegetation and landscaping, paint and other surface treatments, alternative antenna configuration and/or selection, utilization of antenna support structures designed to resemble trees, and any other practice which screens the WCF from observation from roadways, residences, and other properties or otherwise has the effect of reducing the aesthetic impacts associated with the WCF.

8.    Noise. No equipment shall be operated at a WCF (attached or detached) so as to produce noise in excess of the applicable noise standards under Chapter 8.18, except for in emergency situations requiring the use of a backup generator, where the noise standards may be exceeded on a temporary basis. Air conditioning and ventilation equipment associated with the ancillary equipment of the WCF shall be designed and configured in a manner so that noise impacts on adjacent properties with residential uses are minimized to the maximum extent practicable through the use of baffling and/or other noise attenuation techniques and that the noise levels generated by the ancillary equipment otherwise comply with applicable noise regulations adopted by the city. In descending order, preference shall be given to the following configurations of air conditioning and ventilation equipment: (a) orientation toward properties with nonresidential uses; (b) orientation toward streets; and (c) orientation toward the furthest residential use.

9.    Collocation. It is the policy of the city to minimize the number of detached WCFs and to encourage the collocation of more than one WCF on a single support tower. No new detached WCFs may be constructed unless it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the permit authority that existing support towers are not available for collocation of an additional WCF, or that their specific locations do not satisfy the operational requirements of the applicant. In addition, all detached WCFs shall be designed to promote facility and site sharing. All facilities shall make available unused space for collocation of other telecommunication facilities, including space for those entities providing similar, competing services. Collocation is not required if the host facility can demonstrate that the addition of the new service or facilities would impair existing service or cause the host to go offline for a period of time. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the owner of an existing facility from charging a reasonable fee for collocation of other telecommunications facilities.

10.    Abandonment and Obsolescence. A WCF shall be removed by the facility owner within six months of the date it ceases to be operational or if the facility falls into disrepair.

11.    Maintenance. All WCFs shall be maintained in good and safe condition and in a manner that complies with all applicable federal, state and local requirements.

12.    Electromagnetic Emissions. All applicants shall demonstrate compliance with all applicable FCC regulations regarding the radio-frequency emissions of WCFs. If at any time radio-frequency emissions exceed any of the standards established by the FCC, the applicant shall immediately discontinue use of the WCF and notify the city. Use of the WCF may not resume until the applicant demonstrates that corrections have been completed which reduce the radio-frequency emissions to levels permitted by the FCC.

13.    Special Exceptions. When adherence to the development standards would result in a significant gap in coverage for a WCF or prevent an applicant from addressing a significant capacity need, a special exception may be granted by the approval authority if the permit authority determines that the proposal utilizes the least intrusive means of closing the gap in coverage or addressing the capacity need, as applicable. The applicant has the burden of proof of establishing the gap or need and that the proposal is the least intrusive means of so doing.

14.    Use of City Right-of-Way. Any telecommunications carrier who desires to construct, install, operate, maintain, or otherwise locate telecommunication facilities in, under, over, or across any public right-of-way of the city for the purpose of providing telecommunications services shall obtain permission from the city, and enter into a right-of-way franchise agreement authorizing use of the city right-of-way. Small cells attached to utility poles, streetlights and traffic signals are exempted from the setback requirements.

15.    Conditional Use Permit Criteria. In addition to the performance standards listed in Section 17.64.020, a conditional use permit for a detached WCF other than a small cell in the public right-of-way shall only be approved if the wireless provider can demonstrate that no other attached WCF alternative(s) are available that can provide the same level of service coverage to the targeted area.

16.    Regulatory Compliance. Applicant must comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, those governed by the FCC, FAA, and other regulatory bodies. Such agencies may require regulatory authorizations before the applicant is allowed to install and provide the service(s) or utilize the technologies sought to be installed. (Ord. 1426 § 4 (Exh. A) (part), 2019: Ord. 1403 § 6 (Exh. C) (part), 2017)

17.17.030 Application review time frame.

A.    Eligible Facilities Request.

1.    Application. The director shall prepare and make publicly available an application form which shall be limited to the information necessary for the city to consider whether an application is an eligible facilities request. The application may not require the applicant to demonstrate a need or business case for the proposed modification.

2.    Type of Review. Upon receipt of an application for an eligible facilities request pursuant to this chapter, the director shall review such application to determine whether the application qualifies as an eligible facilities request.

3.    Time Frame for Review. Within sixty days of the date on which an applicant submits an application seeking approval under this chapter, the director shall approve the application unless it determines that the application is not covered by this section.

4.    Tolling of the Time Frame for Review. The sixty-day review period begins to run when the application is filed, and may be tolled only by mutual agreement by the director and the applicant or in cases where the director determines that the application is incomplete. The time frame for review of an eligible facilities request is not tolled by a moratorium on the review of applications.

a.    To toll the time frame for incompleteness, the director shall provide written notice to the applicant within thirty days of receipt of the application, clearly and specifically delineating all missing documents or information required in the application.

b.    The time frame for review begins running again when the applicant makes supplemental submission in response to the director’s notice of incompleteness.

c.    Following a supplemental submission, the director will notify the applicant within ten days that the supplemental submission did not provide the information identified in the original notice delineating missing information. The time frame is tolled in the case of second or subsequent notices pursuant to the procedures identified in this subsection. Second or subsequent notice of incompleteness may not specify missing documents or information that was not delineated in the original notice of incompleteness.

5.    Determination That Application Is Not an Eligible Facilities Request. If the director determines that the applicant’s request does not qualify as an eligible facilities request, the director shall deny the application. In the alternative, to the extent additional information is necessary, the director may request such information from the applicant to evaluate the application under other provisions of this chapter and applicable law.

6.    Failure to Act. In the event the director fails to approve or deny a request for an eligible facilities request within the time frame for review (accounting for any tolling), the request shall be deemed granted. The deemed grant does not become effective until the applicant notifies the director in writing after the review period has expired (accounting for any tolling) that the application has been deemed granted.

7.    Remedies. Both the applicant and the city may bring claims related to Section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act to any court of competent jurisdiction.

B.    New Wireless Communication Facility Review. All wireless communications facilities authorizations and permits are subject to the federal review timelines (“shot clocks”) as described in 47 C.F.R. §1.6001, et seq. (Ord. 1426 § 4 (Exh. A) (part), 2019: Ord. 1403 § 6 (Exh. C) (part), 2017)

17.17.040 Additional review procedures.

Wireless communication facilities in design zones, shoreline management environments, undergrounded areas or critical areas are subject to review as provided in this chapter; Chapter 17.25A, Design Standards for the DB District; Chapter 17.25B, Mixed-Use Design Standards for the WMU District; Chapter 17.52, Critical Areas Regulations; Chapter 17.52A, Geologic Sensitive Area Regulations; Chapter 17.52B, Wetland Regulations; Chapter 17.52C, Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas (Outside Shoreline Jurisdiction); and Chapter 17.52E, Shoreline Regulations. See also Chapter 17.84 regarding SEPA. (Ord. 1426 § 4 (Exh. A) (part), 2019: Ord. 1403 § 6 (Exh. C) (part), 2017)