[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Bethlehem 6-10-1999. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Telecommunications facilities, including towers, antennas and associated structures and equipment, may have profound effects on the environment and character of communities such as Bethlehem and on the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Therefore, such facilities must be carefully and thoughtfully regulated.
The intent of this chapter is to make provisions, with due consideration given to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, to permit the location of telecommunications facilities in the Town of Bethlehem while protecting the public health, safety, welfare and environment, all in accordance with C.G.S. § 7-148. Specific objectives are as follows:
To accommodate the need for telecommunications facilities, while regulating their location and number and reducing their impact on the surrounding community.
To minimize the adverse environmental (including visual) effects of towers, antennas and facilities through careful design, siting and vegetative screening; use of existing structures such as silos and church steeples; and the use of other visual buffering methods as camouflage towers.
To encourage shared or joint use of towers and facilities.
To reduce the number of antennas or towers needed in the future.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- Any device used to receive or to transmit electromagnetic waves and includes, without limitation, whip antennas, dish antennas and panel antennas.
- FALL ZONE
- The area within which a tower could potentially land if it were to fall.
- RELAY FACILITY
- Any device used to receive electromagnetic waves from one or more points and to transmit those waves to one or more other points.
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITY
- Any building, structure or equipment used to receive or transmit electromagnetic waves.
- A structure that is intended to support equipment used to receive or transmit electromagnetic waves.
The applicant for a permit to construct, alter or expand a tower within the Town of Bethlehem shall be required to provide adequate information as to the reason for selecting the proposed tower location, including information on all alternative locations reviewed and the reasons such alternative locations were not selected. No new tower shall be permitted unless the applicant demonstrates that no existing tower or structure can or will accommodate the applicant's proposed antenna. Evidence submitted to demonstrate that no existing tower or structure can accommodate the applicant's proposed antenna may consist of any of the following:
No existing towers or structures are located within the geographical area required to meet the applicant's engineering requirements.
Existing towers or structures are not of sufficient height to meet the applicant's engineering requirements.
Existing towers or structures do not have sufficient structural strength to support the applicant's proposed antenna and related equipment.
The applicant's proposed antenna would cause electromagnetic interference with the antenna on the existing towers or structures, or the antenna on the existing towers or structures would cause interference with the applicant's proposed antenna.
The owner or owners of towers within the geographical area required for the applicant's antennas have refused to allow the placement of those antennas on the existing towers after good faith efforts by the applicant to obtain such permission, including an offer to pay a reasonable fee for leasing such space.
Telecommunications facilities shall be placed in locations on the lots where the existing topography, vegetation, buildings or other structures provide adequate screening as determined by the Board of Selectmen. Additional screening may be required if deemed necessary.
Each tower site must be served by a driveway with parking for at least one vehicle.
The facility shall be surrounded by a fence not higher than eight feet.
All utilities serving such facilities shall be underground.
Towers shall be no taller than necessary to reasonably accommodate the proposed use of the tower. If the tower is proposed to be part of a telecommunications transmission network, the applicant shall be required to provide adequate evidence that the height of the tower is no greater than reasonably necessary to accommodate the reception and transmission needs of the network. Such evidence shall include, without limitation, information on the current status of the network; the location(s) within the Town of Bethlehem or any adjoining towns of all existing or proposed towers or other relay facilities within the network; the reception and transmission range of all such towers or relay facilities; and any alternative tower locations and heights reviewed by the applicant and the reasons such alternatives were not selected.
No tower, antenna or other accessory structures or equipment shall exceed 120 feet in height unless the applicant can demonstrate that such service can only be provided at the location and at the height requested, and that emergency circumstances occurring on the tower at heights greater than 120 feet can be remedied with existing emergency equipment available within the Town of Bethlehem. In no event shall the total height of any tower exceed 200 feet.
Any proposed tower exceeding 100 feet shall be designed to accommodate no less than three sets of antennas at three different elevations, unless the applicant demonstrates that such design is not technically feasible.
Fall zone and setbacks. The applicant shall provide an analysis by a licensed engineer of the potential fall zone of the proposed tower. Towers shall be set back from all property lines by a horizontal distance equivalent to no less than 150% of the tower's height. The Board of Selectmen may waive this requirement, upon written request, if it determines that such setback distances would require the tower to be located in such a way as to damage or destroy significant natural resources on the property. In making any such written request, the applicant must specify the natural resources that would be impacted and the manner and degree of such impact. Under no circumstances shall the proposed fall zone encompass any existing buildings intended for human occupancy.
Design. All towers shall be of a monopole design unless the applicant demonstrates that a monopole design would not be technically feasible or that an alternative design would better protect natural resources or the environment. Monopoles may be required to incorporate a predesigned breakpoint upon a finding that such a design is necessary to protect significant natural resources on the property.
The applicant shall be required to provide adequate evidence that the visibility of the proposed telecommunications facilities from surrounding areas has been minimized to the extent possible. Such evidence shall include a viewshed analysis showing all areas from which the facilities would be visible. The Commission may require the applicant to fly a balloon or to employ another appropriate method to simulate the visibility of the tower or other facilities at the proposed location from other sites within the Town.
Towers not requiring FAA painting/marking shall have a nonreflective galvanized finish or be painted a color approved by the Board of Selectmen.
No signs shall be permitted on any tower or antenna other than for safety or security purposes directly involving the operation.
No lights or illumination shall be permitted unless required by state or federal laws or regulations.
Antennas shall be attached to a building or structure, to a tower existing on or before the effective date of this chapter, or to a tower that has been constructed in accordance with this chapter.
Satellite and microwave dishes may be attached to towers, buildings and structures only when the applicant can demonstrate that such placement would not unreasonably damage or impair any natural or historic resources of the Town or state, and would not unreasonably interfere with existing or currently proposed public safety communications or the receipt or transmission of telecommunications signals from or to existing properties in the vicinity of the dish or dishes. Such dishes must be located on the tower building or structure in a manner that minimizes their visibility from other property in the Town. In no instance shall any dish exceed three feet in diameter. Not more than three dishes shall be allowed on any tower.
Panel antennas shall not exceed six feet in any dimension.
Wherever possible, antennas and dishes shall be enclosed in their host structures and in all cases shall be disguised or camouflaged.
Telecommunications equipment buildings.
All telecommunications facilities, other than towers and antennas, shall be enclosed in a building.
No such equipment building shall exceed 750 square feet for each antenna served.
All such equipment buildings shall be designed so as to be visually compatible with other buildings in the area and fully screened by vegetation.
Multiple equipment buildings for a shared facility shall be attached structures or shall be clustered around the facility.
No telecommunications facility shall be constructed, altered or expanded within the Town of Bethlehem without a permit. Applications for such permits shall be filed with the Board of Selectmen, who shall determine whether the proposed facility complies with the provisions of this chapter. The following requirements shall apply to all applications for telecommunications facilities:
A detailed site development plan will be presented which will include an A-2 survey. Plans for any tower shall include field-developed topographic details, at a contour interval no greater than five feet, of the proposed tower location and all land within a horizontal distance equivalent to 150% of the height of the tower. The plan will also include, among other appropriate items, the following:
Detailed architectural, engineering and construction plans, including complete elevation details for all improvements contemplated as part of the application.
A detailed soil and erosion control plan.
Detailed driveway access construction plans, including, among other items, drainage and utility plans.
Detailed proposed landscaping plans prepared by a licensed landscape designer.
The location of the fall zone.
Details of proposed antenna and mounting equipment, including size and color.
Elevations of all proposed and existing screening and details of materials, including color.
Elevations of all proposed equipment buildings or boxes, and details of all proposed fencing, including color.
A preliminary design drawing, including cross sections and elevations of any proposed tower; a description of the tower's capacity, including the number and type of antennas it can accommodate as well as the proposed location of all mounting positions for co-located antennas and the minimum separation distances between antennas.
A structural analysis of the tower certified by a registered professional engineer demonstrating the adequacy of the design to support the required load and indicating any additional capacity provided for co-located antennas. If a predesigned breakpoint has been incorporated, an illustration of how the tower will collapse shall be provided as well.
A report from a licensed engineer certifying that the installation of the proposed telecommunications facilities will not interfere with public safety communications.
Documentation regarding the availability of any existing or approved telecommunications tower or other structure within the search area ring (one-fourth-mile radius) that meets the needs of the applicant, with particular regard to proposed towers.
A map depicting the extent of the provider's planned coverage within the Town of Bethlehem and the service area of the proposed facility.
Upon request of the Board of Selectmen, the applicant shall provide a simulation of the proposed telecommunications facility in order to help the Board of Selectmen ascertain the visual impacts associated with such proposal. If such a simulation is required, public notice of the time and place of such balloon elevation, and an alternate date in the case of unfavorable weather conditions, shall be published in the form of a legal advertisement appearing in a newspaper having a substantial circulation in Bethlehem at least seven days before the elevation of such balloon.
Certain areas of special investigation and consideration may require additional information to be supplied as part of the application process for any proposed telecommunications facility, and such information may be requested by the Board of Selectmen. These areas include the area within a one-half-mile radius of the Town Office Building, and within a one-half-mile radius of each of the three operating airports within Bethlehem and located at 249 Hard Hill Road North, 78 Thomson Road and 337 Crane Hollow Road.
The permit holder shall exercise good faith in allowing other providers to co-locate on the tower, provided that such shared use does not impair the technical level of quality of service. In the event that any dispute arises as to whether the permit holder has exercised good faith in accommodating other users, the Town may require a third-party technical study at the expense of either or both the permit holder and the applicant.
The permit holder shall be required to remove all towers, antennas and ancillary equipment within six months of the date of cessation of use of such equipment for transmission purposes. Upon removal of such facilities, and within three months after such removal, the site shall be restored as nearly as possible to the physical condition that existed prior to the installation of the facilities. Each application shall include a plan for such facility removal and site restoration for approval by the Board of Selectmen.
The Board of Selectmen may require a cash bond, to be administered by the Town Treasurer, against the restoration plan and any special landscaping or erosion control required as a condition of approval.
Any permit granted hereunder will expire six months after cessation of use.