MEQUON - The ideas in a bill
state Rep. Jim Ott introduced this winter in response to a company's
plan to build a 195-foot-tall cellphone tower in a Mequon back yard
are a step closer to becoming law.
Ott proposed allowing
municipalities to adopt rules with a setback requirement for
cellphone towers on residential lots or areas zoned residential. For
instance, that 195-foot tower would have to be built at least that
far from a property line.
Ott's plan later got rolled
into a wider-ranging bill related to wireless facilities. That bill
was approved by the Assembly last month. The Mequon Republican said
this week he hopes it advances through the Senate and on to Gov.
Scott Walker after lawmakers return from a summer recess.
"I got everything I wanted in
the bill - plus a little bit more," Ott said. "I think this pretty
much solves the problem. It certainly would solve the problem we had
here in Mequon."
A kerfuffle started when
Indiana-based Cellusite announced plans to build the cell tower for
T-Mobile on a lot at 6131 W. Chapel Hill Road, which is just
northwest of Green Bay and Highland roads. The city had few teeth to
stop the tower, despite the objections of neighbors. A provision in
the 2013 state budget takes most power away from municipalities to
regulate the location of cell towers.
Ott spoke with T-Mobile
representatives and ultimately drafted his bill. Most of his ideas
were incorporated into the bill that the Assembly passed on a voice
vote June 21 that was introduced by state Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New
Berlin, who is chairman of the Assembly's Energy and Utilities
Ott said his proposal was
enhanced because language in the Kuglitsch bill includes lots that
are adjacent to residential lots. For instance, it would apply to a
commercial property adjacent to one zoned residential.
The bill does not
automatically impose the setback rules; it permits cities, towns and
villages to adopt rules that do that.
"Hopefully all of the
municipalities take advantage of this opportunity to pass a local
ordinance," Ott said.
The Kuglitsch bill, which
lists state Rep. Rob Brooks, R-Saukville, as one of its cosponsors,
does not have an identical bill already introduced in the Senate.
However, state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, signed onto the
Ott said the rules he
proposed are a necessary fix to state law.
"You just can't have
situations like we had here in Mequon where somebody wakes up one
morning and 25 feet from their lot line, there's a cell tower," he