Cellphone towers of various shapes and sizes dot Missouri’s landscape, and companies are planning more to keep up with the ever-growing use of mobile communication devices.
As much as Missouri needs to encourage a robust technology infrastructure, the placement of towers shouldn’t run roughshod over the wishes of communities or property owners. Yet that’s exactly what a bill on Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk enables cellphone service providers to do.
At the request of telecommunications companies, with AT&T taking a lead role, Missouri’s pro-business legislature speedily passed House Bill 331 this session. The legislation, which models bills brought before a number of other state legislatures, contains a list of 18 things that cities, counties and states could not do when assessing a proposed new cellphone tower.
Local governments could not evaluate applications based on whether a different location might be better. They couldn’t question whether attaching equipment to an existing tower would be a better plan. They would not be able to require that older wireless facilities be removed to make way for a new tower. Environmental testing and sampling would be limited and so would the ability of local governments to conduct a proper review of an application.
These restrictions are overbearing and unfair. Cellphone towers are imposing structures, and local officials should have the right to consider their relationship to property values and the well-being of a community.
There is no evidence that cities and counties in Missouri were making it unduly difficult to erect towers. House Bill 331 is simply a proactive move by corporate interests to have their way.
Nixon should stand up for Missouri citizens and communities and veto the bill.
Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.