Chapter 17.31


17.31.010    Intent.

17.31.020    Definitions.

17.31.030    Applicability.

17.31.040    Exemptions.

17.31.050    Review process.

17.31.060    Submittal requirements.

17.31.070    Permitted locations.

17.31.080    Prohibited locations.

17.31.090    Permitted height.

17.31.100    Site development standards.

17.31.110    Co-location.

17.31.120    Radio frequency standards.

17.31.130    Technological change.

17.31.140    Permit limitations.

17.31.010 Intent.

It is the intent of this chapter to:

(1) Establish appropriate locations, site development standards, and permit requirements to allow for various types of wireless communication services which are consistent with the character of the city.

(2) Minimize the adverse visual impact of these facilities.

(3) Allow wireless communication facilities which supply adequate service to citizens, the traveling public and others within the city. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.020 Definitions.

(1) “Antenna” means the specific device the surface of which is used to capture an incoming and/or transmit an outgoing radio-frequency signal. Antennas include the following types:

(A) Omni-Directional (or “Whip”) Antenna. Receives and transmits signals in a 360 degree pattern, and is up to 15 feet in height and up to four inches in diameter.

(B) Directional (or “Panel”) Antenna. Receives and transmits signals in a directional pattern typically encompassing an arc of 120 degrees.

(C) Parabolic (or “Dish”) Antenna. A bowl-shaped device that receives and transmits signals in a specific directional pattern.

(D) Ancillary Antenna. An antenna that is less than 12 inches in its largest dimension and is not directly used to provide personal wireless communications services. Example: global positioning system (GPS) antenna.

(E) Other. All other transmitting or receiving equipment not specifically described herein shall be regulated in conformity with the type of antenna described herein which most closely resembles such equipment.

(2) “Co-location” means the use of a single support structure and/or site by more than one wireless communications provider.

(3) “Critical area” means any of the following areas or ecosystems: aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently flooded areas, geologically hazardous areas, and wetlands, as defined in Chapter 36.70A RCW.

(4) “Equipment enclosure” means a small structure, shelter, cabinet, or vault used to house and protect the electronic equipment necessary for processing wireless communications signals. Associated equipment may include air conditioning and emergency generators.

(5) “Stealth technology” means those strategies and technological innovations designed to resemble other features in the surrounding environment to better blend or integrate the technology into an area. Strategies include, but are not limited to, hiding, masking or screening the feature or mimicking other surrounding features.

(6) “Support structure” means the structure to which antenna and other necessary associated hardware is mounted. Support structures include but are not limited to the following:

(A) Lattice Tower. A support structure which consists of a network of crossed metal braces, forming a tower which is usually triangular or square in cross section.

(B) Monopole. A support structure which consists of a single pole sunk into the ground and/or attached to a foundation.

(C) Existing Nonresidential Structure. Existing structures as specified in WMC 17.31.050(1) to which antennas may be attached which conform to the requirements of WMC 17.31.050(1).

(7) “Wireless communications facility (WCF)” means an unstaffed facility for the transmission and reception of radio or microwave signals used for commercial communications. WCFs are composed of two or more of the following components:

(A) Antenna;

(B) Support structure;

(C) Equipment enclosure;

(D) Security barrier. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.030 Applicability.

The requirements of this chapter apply to all new WCFs and the expansion and/or alteration of any existing WCFs, however, an in-kind or smaller replacement of transmission equipment will only require a written notification to the city. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.040 Exemptions.

The following are exempt from the provisions of this chapter:

(1) Industrial processing equipment and scientific or medical equipment using frequencies regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

(2) Antennas and related equipment that are being stored, shipped or displayed for sale.

(3) Radar systems for military and civilian communication and navigation.

(4) Wireless radio utilized for temporary emergency communications in the event of a disaster.

(5) Licensed amateur (ham) radio stations.

(6) Routine maintenance or repair of a WCF and related equipment.

(7) A “cell on wheels” (COW) or other temporary WCF for a maximum of 90 days during an emergency declared by the federal, state or local government.

(8) AM/FM radio and television broadcast facilities or towers. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.050 Review process.

All requests to locate wireless communication facilities shall be reviewed through either the binding site plan review process of Chapter 17.36B WMC or the conditional use permit process of Chapter 17.44 WMC.

(1) Wireless communication facilities proposed for co-location or location on existing commercial buildings, public structures or public property shall require approval through the binding site plan review process of Chapter 17.36B WMC.

(2) Wireless communication facilities proposed as freestanding support structures shall require approval through the conditional use permit process of Chapter 17.44 WMC.

(3) Third Party Review of Submittal Requirements. Because of the complexity of technical data and analysis required for adequate review of proposals, a third party may be contacted for review and analysis of such applications, particularly where disputes arise regarding the capability of meeting city goals, standards or policies in siting these facilities. The third party analysis will be at the discretion of the city administrator or designee and will be at the expense of the applicant. The cost of such analysis will be agreed to and paid prior to the processing of or any action on the permit application. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.060 Submittal requirements.

(1) For applications proposed under Chapter 17.44 WMC, in addition to the information requested in the conditional use application, the following items shall be required for a WCF application:

(A) A diagram or map showing the view shed of the proposed facility.

(B) Photo simulations of the proposed facility at varying distances from affected residential properties and public rights-of-way.

(C) A map showing the service area of the proposed WCF and an explanation of the need for that facility.

(D) A site plan showing the specific placement of the WCF on the site; showing the location of existing structures, trees, and other significant site features; indicating type and locations of plant materials used to screen WCF components; and the proposed color(s) for the WCF.

(E) A signed statement indicating:

(i) The applicant agrees to allow for the potential co-location by other providers on the applicant’s structure or within the same site location; and

(ii) The applicant agrees to remove the facility within six months after that site’s use is discontinued.

(F) A lease agreement with the landholder or letter of authorization from the owner allowing the provider to act as an agent for the landowner in a land use application.

(G) Prior to issuance of the building permit, the applicant shall provide a lease agreement that:

(i) Allows the landholder to enter into leases with other providers; and

(ii) Specifies that if the provider fails to remove the facility upon six months of its discontinued use, the responsibility for removal falls upon the landholder.

(H) Evaluation of reasonable stealth technology that could be proposed to lessen the visual and land use impacts of the facility.

(I) Justification must be provided that the structure is necessary and essential, that other methods are not possible (such as the use of existing structures, other towers, buildings, etc.), or the use of other technological methods such as microcell technology (where systems are built as part of cable systems and no towers are needed) are not feasible.

(2) Applications submitted under Chapter 17.36B WMC. In addition to information listed on the binding site plan review application, the following information may be required:

(A) Those items listed under subsection (1) of this section that the administrator deems necessary to properly evaluate the application. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.070 Permitted locations.

(1) Zoning and land use compatibility shall be a primary consideration in the location of WCFs. Industrial, commercial, and public properties and existing commercial and industrial buildings shall be encouraged for such use. Residential areas shall normally not be considered except on city property preferably in conjunction with city improvements such as water towers or public buildings. For the purpose of this chapter, any undeveloped parcels in the mixed-use tourist commercial zone shall be construed as being a commercial use.

(2) WCFs may be mounted on all currently existing nonresidential buildings except as follows:

(A) Any building which is an accessory structure to a residence.

(B) Buildings which, due to their small size, would be dominated by the facility.

(3) Building mounted WCFs must meet the following conditions and criteria:

(A) A building mounted WCF may consist of the following:

(i) Nonreflective panel antenna(s);

(ii) Whip antenna(s);

(iii) Nonreflective parabolic dish;

(iv) The number of antennas shall be reasonable to accommodate the technology compatible with the constraints of the building and prevailing land use.

(B) In addition to the overall height limitations in WMC 17.31.090, the antennas should conform to the following general height restrictions relating to the existing building. However, the site plan review committee may approve any height it feels is reasonably necessary to meet the requirements of the technology as long as the facility is compatible with surrounding land uses and does not significantly impact the aesthetic character of the area.

(i) Fifteen feet measured to the top of a panel antenna above the roof of the existing building at the point of attachment.

(ii) Twenty feet measured to the tip of a whip antenna above the roof of the existing building at the point of attachment.

(iii) Five feet measured to the top of a parabolic dish above the roof of the existing building at the point of attachment.

(C) All antennas shall be located to minimize the obstruction of views from residential structures and rights-of-way.

(D) Equipment enclosures shall be located within the building in which the facility is placed or located underground if site conditions permit. Otherwise, equipment enclosures shall be screened from view by compatible walls, fences or landscaping.

(4) WCFs requiring construction of a support structure may be located on the site of existing nonresidential uses except in areas where support structures cannot be adequately set back from the nearest residential use property line or the nearest vacant property zoned for residential use.

(5) WCFs requiring construction of a support structure must be located on a portion of a site that, to the greatest extent feasible, is effectively isolated from view of residential areas or public rights-of-way by structures or terrain features. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.080 Prohibited locations.

(1) WCFs are not allowed on properties zoned only for residential use except on public facilities.

(2) WCFs are prohibited within critical areas with the exception of aquifer recharge areas. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.090 Permitted height.

(1) WCFs utilizing a freestanding support structure and omni-directional antennas shall be limited to the minimum height reasonably required to accommodate the technology. Support documentation shall be submitted justifying the requested height, which may include a technical analysis from an independent party of the city’s choice.

(2) Height of WCFs shall conform to Chapter 17.34 WMC, Airport Obstruction Zones. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.100 Site development standards.

(1) Freestanding WCFs shall conform to the following site development standards:

(A) Support structures shall be set back from all residential property lines a distance equal to the height of the support structure plus the height of any antennas, and shall comply with all required setbacks of the zoning district in which it is located.

(B) Support structures shall be designed and placed on the site in a manner that takes maximum advantage of existing trees, mature vegetation, and structures so as to:

(i) Use existing site features to screen as much of the total WCF as possible from prevalent views; and/or

(ii) Use existing site features as a background so that the total WCF blends into the background with increased sight distances.

(C) Support structures, panel and parabolic antennas, and any associated hardware shall be painted a nonreflective color or color scheme appropriate to the background against which the WCF would be viewed from a majority of points within its viewshed. Natural colors only may be employed and the final colors and color scheme must meet the approval of the city.

(D) Equipment enclosures shall conform to the following:

(i) Equipment enclosures will be placed underground if site conditions permit and if technically feasible.

(ii) Equipment enclosures shall be screened from view.

(iii) Walk-in equipment enclosures:

(a) May not be constructed with exposed metal surfaces.

(b) May not be required to be totally screened from view provided the city finds that the walk-in equipment enclosure has been designed using materials, colors, and detailing that produces a structure which emulates the desired character of the zone in which it is located.

(E) Security fencing, if used, shall conform to the following:

(i) No fence shall exceed six feet in height.

(ii) Security fencing shall be effectively screened from view through the use of appropriate landscaping materials or, at a minimum, privacy slats shall be used. The fence and privacy slats shall be a deep green or other color which blends in with the surrounding environment.

(2) 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 additional permits can be granted so as to not adversely affect the character of the city. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.110 Co-location.

(1) A permittee shall cooperate with other WCF providers in co-locating additional antennas on support structures and/or on existing buildings provided said proposed co-locators have received an appropriate permit for such use at said site from the city. A permittee shall exercise good faith in co-locating with other providers sharing of the permitted site, provided such shared use does not give rise to a substantial technical level impairment of the ability to provide the permitted use (i.e., a significant interference in broadcast or reception capabilities as opposed to a competitive conflict or financial burden). Such good faith shall include sharing technical information to evaluate the feasibility of co-location. In the event a dispute arises as to whether a permittee has exercised good faith in accommodating other users, the city may require a third party technical study at the expense of either or both the applicant and permittee.

(2) All applicants shall demonstrate reasonable efforts in developing a co-location alternative for their proposal.

(3) Failure to comply with the co-location requirements of this section may result in the denial of a permit request or revocation of an existing permit.

(4) The city shall deny an application to construct new facilities if the applicant has not made a diligent effort to mount the facilities on an existing freestanding or remote freestanding WCF or other communication tower. At minimum, this requires an assessment of any existing towers that have the location, as well as the existing or potential height, structural capability and equipment structure area, a written request to those tower owners to co-locate on their facilities and a good faith effort to work with those tower owners to co-locate. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.120 Radio frequency standards.

(1) The permittee shall comply with federal standards for radio frequency emissions. Within six months after the issuance of its operational permit, the permittee shall submit a project implementation report which provides cumulative field measurements of radio frequency emissions of all antennas installed at the subject site and compares the results with established federal standards. Said report shall be subject to review and approval of the city for consistency with federal standards. If on review, the city finds that the WCF does not meet federal standards, the city may revoke or modify the conditional use permit.

(2) The permittee shall ensure that the WCF will not cause localized interference with the reception of area television or radio broadcasts. If on review the city finds that the WCF interferes with such reception, and if such interference is not eliminated within 60 days, the city may revoke or modify the conditional use permit. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.130 Technological change.

The city recognizes that WCFs and communication technologies in general are currently subject to rapid change. Innovations such as switching hardware and software, transmission/receiving equipment, communications protocols, and development of hybrid cable/wireless systems may result in reducing the impacts of individual facilities and to render specific portions of this chapter obsolete. The city recognizes the fast pace of this technology and shall have the flexibility to accommodate it where there is a conflict with provisions of this chapter, where the city considers it reasonable to do so and where the purposes of this chapter and vision of the city can still be accomplished. (Ord. 1282, 2003)

17.31.140 Permit limitations.

(1) A permit for a freestanding support structure WCF shall expire 10 years after the effective date of the permit approval. A permittee wishing to continue the use of a specific WCF at the end of the 10-year period must apply for a new permit to continue the use at least six months prior to its expiration. In ruling on said renewal, the city shall apply all then existing regulations affecting the application and shall consider new technology that may reduce aesthetic and land use impacts.

(2) A permit shall become null, void and nonrenewable if the permitted facility is not constructed and placed into use within 18 months of the date of the city approval; provided, that the permit may be extended one time for six months if construction has commenced before expiration of the original time period.

(3) The permit shall expire and the applicant must remove the facility if the facility is not put into use within 90 days after construction or if use is discontinued for a period in excess of 90 consecutive days. If the facility is not removed, the city may cause the facility to be removed and all expenses of removal shall be paid by the owner of the land where the facility is located.

(4) The applicant shall maintain the WCF to standards that may be imposed by the city at the time of the granting of a permit. Such maintenance shall include, but shall not be limited to, maintenance of the paint, structural integrity and landscaping. If the applicant fails to maintain the facility, the city may terminate the permit, at the city’s sole option.

(5) The applicant shall notify the city of all changes in ownership or operation of the facility within 30 days of the change. (Ord. 1282, 2003)