Whereas, the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (FTA) preserves local zoning authority to reasonably regulate Wireless Communication Facilities (WCF), provided however, that the FTA mandates that localities may not unreasonably discriminate among Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license holders and that localities may not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting WCFs, and that the FTA gives the FCC sole jurisdiction over radio frequency emissions of WCFs so long as WCFs meet FCC standards; and


Whereas, the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Washington State Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 2828 restrict and partially preempted a town's authority to regulate communication facilities; and


Whereas, Wireless Personal Communication Services (PCS) and Wireless Communication Facilities (WCF) comprise a rapidly growing segment of the utilities and communications sector and have merit and value for the community and region as a whole; and


Whereas, WCFs are supportive of the public health, safety, and welfare in that they provide useful portable communication services for personal convenience, business and emergency purposes; and


Whereas, the current zoning code of the Town of South Prairie was adopted before wireless communication facilities were anticipated, and therefore, appropriate siting and development standards do not exist; and


Whereas, the Town previously imposed a moratorium prohibiting the issuance of permits for communication facilities of such facilities pending completion of a public hearing and review process to develop a town ordinance; and


Whereas, the Planning Commission has held a public hearing at which the public and members of the wireless communications industry have had an opportunity to speak and present their concerns and/or objections; and


Whereas, the Town Council finds that enactment of regulations to permit or conditionally permit wireless communication facilities within the community to be required by federal law and in the interest of the Town of South Prairie; and


Whereas, the testimony presented at the legislative hearing before the Town Council contained no objection to the reasonableness or impact of the Town's regulations and, more particularly, testimony indicated that the proposed ordinances wireless communications and related facilities within the town of South Prairie.









Now, therefore, the Town Council of the Town of South Prairie, Pierce County, Washington do ordain as follows:




Section 1: Purpose/Goals: The purpose of this ordinance is to establish appropriate locations, site development standards, and permit requirements to allow wireless communication facilities within the Town of South Prairie, in a manner which provides for a wide range of locations and options for wireless communication providers while minimizing the unsightly characteristics associated with wireless communication facilities and to encourage creative approaches in locating wireless communication facilities which will blend in with the surroundings of such facilities.


The goals of this ordinance are to: (I) encourage the location of towers in non-residential areas and minimize the total number of towers throughout the community, (ii) encourage strongly the joint use of new and existing tower sites, (iii) encourage users of towers and antennas to locate them, to the extent possible, in areas where the adverse impact on the community is minimal, (iv) encourage users of towers and antennas to configure them in a way that minimizes the adverse visual impact of the towers and antennas, and (v) enhance the ability of the providers of telecommunications services to provide such services to the community quickly, effectively, and efficiently.


Section 2: Exemptions and Applicability:


A.                    Pre-existing WCFs - WCFs for which a permit has been issued prior to the effective date of this ordinance shall not be required to meet the requirements of this ordinance as further specified in this chapter.


B.                    Exclusion of Amateur Radio Facilities - This ordinance shall not govern the installation of any amateur radio facility that is owned and operated by a federally-licensed amateur radio station operator or is used exclusively for receiving only antenna(e).


C.                    Exclusion of small satellite dishes - This ordinance shall not govern the installation of small satellite dishes (i.e., one meter or less in any land use category and two meters or less in any industrial or commercial zoning districts).


D.                    SEPA Exemptions - In accordance with Washington State Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2828, the following facilities will not require an environmental analysis:


1.      A microcell to be attached to an existing structure that does not include a residence or a school; and

2.            Personal wireless service antenna(e) attached to an existing structure which is not a residence or school within commercial, industrial, forest, and agricultural zoning districts (including existing towers); and

3.            A personal wireless service tower less than 60 feet in height located in a commercial, industrial, forest, and agricultural zoning districts.

 C. Relationship to Other Ordinances - This ordinance supersedes all conflicting requirements of other codes and ordinances regarding the locating and permitting of WCFs.


Section 3: Definitions:

Antenna Array -- is any system of pole, panels, rods, reflecting discs or similar devices used for the transition or reception of radio frequency signals. Antennas include the following types:

1.             Omni-Directional (also known as "whip") Antenna - receives radio frequency signals in a 360-degree radio pattern, and which is up to 15 feet in height and up to 4 inches in diameter.

2.             Directional_ (also known as "panel") Antenna - receives and transmits radio signals in a directional pattern typically encompassing an arc of 120 degrees.

3.             Parabolic (also known as a "dish") Antenna - is a bowl shaped device for the reception and/or transmission of radio frequency communications signal in a specific pattern.

4.             Ancillary Antenna - an antenna that is less than 12 inches in its largest dimension that is not directly used to provide personal wireless communication services. Such antennas would include global positioning satellite (GPS) antennas.

5.             Other - All other transmitting and receiving equipment not  specifically described herein shall be regulated in conformity with

 the type of antenna described herein which most closely

resembles such equipment.

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Collocation: when one or more wireless communication providers mount equipment on a single support structure (i.e., building, monopole, lattice tower).

Equipment shelter or cabinet -- a room, cabinet, building, or vault used to house equipment for utility or service providers. Associated equipment may include air-conditioning and emergency generators.


FAA -- Federal Aviation Administration.

FCC -- Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has the power to regulate interstate and foreign communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

Related equipment - all equipment ancillary to the transmission and reception of voice and data via radio frequencies. Such equipment may include, but is not limited to, cable, conduits and connections.

Support Structures -- structures to which antennas and other necessary associated hardware is mounted. Support structures include, but are not limited to transmission towers, utility poles, and buildings.

Temporary wireless communication facility (Temp WCF) - a WCF which to be placed in use for a limited period of time, is not deployed in a permanent manner, and does not have a permanent foundation.

Transmission tower - a freestanding structure, other than a building, on which communication devices are mounted. Transmission towers may serve either as a major or minor communications facility. Transmission towers include, but are not limited to the following support structures:

1.              Guyed tower - a support structure which is usually more than 100 feet tall, and consists of metal crossed strips or bars and is steaded by wire guys in a radical pattern around the tower.

2.              Lattice tower - a support structure which consists of crossed metal braces, forming a tower which is usually triangular or square in cross-section.

3.             Monopole - a support structure which consists of a single pole sunk into the ground and/or attached to a foundation.

Wireless communications - any personal wireless services as defined in the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 which includes FCC licensed commercial wireless communications services including cellular, personal communication services (PCS), specialized mobile radio (SMR), enhanced specialized mobile radio (ESMR), paging and similar services that currently exist or that may in the future be developed.


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Wireless communication facility (WCF) - an unstaffed facility for the transmission and reception of low-power radio signals consisting of an equipment shelter or cabinet, a support structure, antennas, and related equipment. WCFs can be divided into two categories:


A.                  Attached Wireless Communication Facility (Attached WCF) -- an antenna array that is attached to an existing building or structure (attached structure), which structures shall include but not be limited to utility poles, water towers, with any accompanying pole or device which attaches the Antenna Array to the existing building or structure and associated connection cables, and an equipment facility which may be located either inside or outside of the attached structure.


B.                 Freestanding wireless communication facilities with support structures. Section 4: Permits Required:


1.                   Building permits. A building permit is required for all telecommunication facilities unless specifically exempted within Exemptions of this chapter.


2.                   Telecommunications Facility Permits. A Telecommunications Facility Permit is required for all telecommunications facilities which are not reviewed under a Conditional Use Permit process, except wireless communication facilities that collocate on an existing relay tower, where adequate provisions for antennae and ground-mounted equipment exist. Telecommunication Facility Permits will be required for all WCF attached to existing structures such as utility poles, buildings, water towers, etc.


3.                    Conditional Use Permit. A Conditional Use permit is required for any wireless communications facility requiring the construction of a support structure. The Conditional Use Permit application shall be reviewed for consistency with the criteria established for the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit.


Section 5: General Siting Criteria: Siting criteria for WCFs is necessary to encourage the siting of those facilities in locations most appropriate based on land use compatibility, neighborhood characteristics, and aesthetic considerations. No general siting criteria are necessary for small satellite dishes or amateur ratio towers because these facilities are allowed within all zoning districts.

Generally, collocating on existing WCF towers is encouraged by fewer standards and less complex permit procedures. Further, attachment of antenna(e) to existing nonresidential structures and buildings primarily within light industrial and commercial zoning districts is preferable to new WCF support structures. The Town may request feasibility studies which demonstrate that locations on existing structures have been explored as the preferred siting alternative.


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A.       Attached wireless communication facilities: The following sites shall be considered by applicants as the preferred order of location of proposed wireless facilities including antenna(e), equipment, and equipment shelters.     As determined feasible, and in order of preference, the sites are:

1.                 Existing Towers - On any existing site or tower where a legal wireless telecommunication facility is currently located regardless or underlying zoning.

2.                 Publicly-Used Structures - Attached to existing public facilities such as water towers, utility poles, utility structures, fire stations, and other public buildings within all zoning districts not utilized primarily for recreational uses.

3.                 Light Industrial - Structures or sites used exclusively for Industrial and manufacturing uses within the Light Industrial zoning districts. These are areas for more intensive land use and where a full range of public facilities are expected. Attached WCFs within the LI zoning districts shall require approval by the Design Review Board as part of the Telecommunications Facility Permit review process.

4.                 Commercially zoned sites - Structures or sites used exclusively for commercial and office uses. These are areas of more intensive land uses where a full range of public facilities are expected. Attached WCFs within these zoning districts shall require approval by the Town Council as part of the Telecommunications Facility Permit review process.

5.                 Residential zones - Structures or sites which are not used wholly for residential use, including residential accessory structures (e.g., detached garages). Where the installation complies with all FCC regulations and standards, institutional structures, places of worship and other non-residential sites may be considered. Attached WCFs within all residential zoning districts shall require approval by the Town Council as part of the Telecommunications Facility Permit review process.

B.      Free-standing Wireless communication facilities with support

structures WCF with support structures shall be minimized by collocating wireless facilities on existing towers. New WCFs with support structures are most appropriately located within certain Public (P) zoning districts, Light Industrial (LI) zoning districts, and Highway Commercial Business (HCB) zoning districts, followed in offer by commercial (CB-1 and CB-2), and business (GO,NB, H) zoning districts. All new support structure, including monopole and lattice towers, will require a conditional use permit. New WCFs with support structures are not allowed within the Agricultural (AG), and Residential Zoning Districts.


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Section 6: General Development Standards for all Zoning Districts: The following standards shall be applied to all wireless equipment, such as antenna(e) and equipment shelters. Transmission towers shall meet the standards of Section 7, in addition to the requirements of this section.


1.                  No wireless equipment reviewed under this section shall be located within required building setback areas.


2.                   The combined antenna(e) and supporting structure shall not exceed more than 15 feet above the existing or proposed support structure (i.e., existing tower or building).


3.                  No wireless equipment shall be used for the purpose of signage or message display of any kind.


4.                    Location of wireless communication antenna (e) on existing buildings shall be screened or camouflaged to the greatest practical extent possible by the use of compatible materials, location, color, and/or other stealth tactics to maximize compatibility of the antenna(e) with its support structure.


Screening of wireless equipment shall be provided with one or a combination of the following materials: fencing, walls, landscaping, structures, or topography which will block the view of equipment and structures as practicable from any street and from the yards and main floor living areas of residential properties within approximately 500 feet. Screening may be located anywhere between the base and the above-mentioned viewpoints. All screening shall be reviewed and approved by the Design Review Board as part of the Telecommunications facility permit process.


 6. A WCF shall be removed by the facility owner within 12 months of the date it ceases to be operational or if the facility falls into disrepair and is not maintained. Disrepair includes structural features, paint, landscaping, or general lack of maintenance which could result in safety or visual impacts.

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Section 7: Development Standards for Freestanding WCF with Support Structures:

1.                 Placement of a freestanding WCF shall be denied if placement of the antenna(e) on an existing structure can accommodate the operator's communication needs. The collocation of a proposed antenna(e) in an existing support structure shall be explored and documented by the operator in order to show that reasonable efforts are made to identify alternative locations.

2.                 The Applicant shall demonstrate that the proposal location was selected pursuant to the siting criteria established in this chapter. WCF support structures shall be denied if an alternative placement of the antenna(e) on a building or other existing structure can accommodate the communication needs. Applications shall be required to provide documentation that reasonable efforts to identify alternative locations were made.

3.                 Owners and operators of a proposed support structure shall provide information regarding the opportunity for the collocation of other antenna(e) and related equipment. If feasible, provisions for future collocation may be required.

4.                WCF support structure shall be reviewed under this section shall not be located with any required building setback areas.

5.                 To the extent possible and in compliance with FAA safety regulations, specific colors of paint may be required to allow the support structure to blend better with its setting.

6.                The highest point of a free-standing support structure, excluding the antenna(e), shall be a maximum of 60 feet above the finished grade.

7.                Support structures shall meet the setback requirements of the underlying zoning district unless otherwise established in this ordinance.

8.                 A landscaping plan is required for all new free-standing wireless communication facilities with support structure. The plan shall meet the criteria established by ordinance.

9.                 A Washington licensed professional engineer shall certify in writing, over his or her seal, that both the construction plans and final construction of the support structures are designed to reasonably withstand wind and seismic loads established by the Uniform Building Code.

10.            All WCF support structures shall be removed by the facility owner within 12 months of the date it ceases to be operational, or if the facility falls into


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disrepair and is not maintained. Disrepair includes structural features, paint, landscaping, or general lack of maintenance which could result in safety or visual impacts.


11.    The Town of South Prairie prohibits the construction of free-standing guyed wire towers within all zoning districts.

Section 8: Additional Conditional Use Permit Submittal Requirements for Free-standing WCF Support Structures: In addition to the information requested in the Conditional Use Permit Application the following items shall be required for a Wireless Communications Facility application and review:

1)           A site plan which shows existing and proposed transmission structures, warning signs, fencing and access restrictions;

2)           A diagram or map showing the visual impact of the proposed structure on that area within a minimum radius of 500 feet from the site;

3)            A map showing the service area of the proposed WCF and an explanation of the need for that facility at the proposed site. The explanation shall also include technological evidence that the height of the proposed facility is the minimum height necessary to fulfill the cell site's function.


4)           Landscape Plan.

           5)      A signed statement indicating:

a)           The telecommunications company holds a valid license as required by State and Federal law.

b)           The applicant agrees to allow for the potential collocation of additional WCF equipment by other providers on the applicant's structure or within the sane site location;

c)           That the applicant agrees to remove the facility within 12 months after that site's use is discontinued.

d)           A notarized signed affidavit by the property owner, if different from the facility owner, that the facility owner has a legal lease agreement, or option to lease agreement, or grant easement.

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Section 9: Additional Conditional Use Permit Criteria for WCF Support Structures (e.g., monopole and Lattice towers)

1.             Antennas may not extend more than fifteen (15) feet above their supporting structure, monopole, lattice tower, building or other structure.

2.             Site location and development shall preserve the pre-existing character of the surrounding buildings and land uses and the zone district to the extent consistent with the functions of the communications equipment. Wireless communication towers shall be integrated through the location and design to blend on with the existing characteristics of the site to the extent practical. Existing on-site vegetation shall be preserved to the extent possible and/or improved, and disturbance of the existing topography shall be minimized, unless such disturbance would result in less visual impact of the site to the surrounding area.

3.              Accessory equipment for WCFs should be located within buildings or placed underground when possible. When accessory equipment cannot be located in buildings, equipment shelters or cabinets shall be screened and landscaped in conformance with Town landscape ordinances.

4.              Except as specifically required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), transition structures shall:

a)           Use colors which reduce their visual impacts; provided wooden poles do not have to be painted; and

b)           Not be illuminated, except transmitter building may use lighting for security reasons which is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

c)           Not have obstructing lighting systems unless an aeronautical study has been completed, stating the lights are needed.

Section 10: Removal of Abandoned Wireless Communication Facilities: Any WCFs that is not operated for a continuous period of twelve (12) months shall be considered abandoned, and the owner of such WCF shall remove the same within ninety (90) days of notice to the governing authority that the WCF is abandoned. If such WCF is not removed within the said ninety (90) days, the governing authority may remove such WCF at the owner's expense. If there are two or more users of a single WCF, then this provision shall not become effective until all users cease using the WCF.

Section 11: Technological Change and Periodic Review: The Town recognizes that WCFs and communication technologies in general are currently subject to rapid

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change. Innovations in such things as switching hardware and software transmission/receiving equipment, communication protocols, and development hybrid

cable/wireless systems may result in reducing the impacts of individual facilities and to render specific portions of this ordinance obsolete. Therefore, the Town shall review this ordinance at least once every five years or upon request of the Town Council or Planning Commission.


Section 12:    Other:    Application and Conditional Use Criteria: Federal Telecommunications Act 1996 and Washington State ESHB 2828 preemptions. In any proceeding regarding the issuance of a conditional use permit under the terms of this chapter, federal law prohibits consideration of environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that the proposed facilities comply with the Federal Communications Commission regulations concerning such emissions. Additionally, ESHB 2828 exempts microcell telecommunication facilities from the State Environmental Policy Act review process.


Section 13: If any provision of this ordinance is determined to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall remain in force and affect.


Section 14: This ordinance shall take effect and be in force five (5) days from and after its passage, approval and publication as required by law.




Mayor Dale P. Stubbs

INTRODUCED:          8/5/97

PASSED:                     8/5/97

APPROVED:               8/5/97

PUBLISHED:              9/17/97


Acting Town Clerk/Treasurer Approved as to Form:



Michael J. Reynolds City Attorney


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