As expected, it was another slow week in the Legislature with respect to legislation under consideration; however that does not apply to the mid-year budget, which the House is set to adopt much sooner than the March 6th date of adoption in 2013.
However, one piece of legislation, House Bill 176, The “Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act” or better known as the cell phone tower bill, passed unanimously by substitute out of the House Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee yesterday and now heads to the House Rules Committee. This legislation will limit the number of days a local government must approve or deny an application for a “cell phone tower” to 150 days from the filing date of the application (unless another date is agreed upon by the applicant and local government), allows reasonable timeline measures for approval or denial of an application and limits zoning, permitting or inspection fees to a reasonable cost (no more than $500). Essentially, it provides flexibility in a company’s ability to locate a cell phone tower. One of the key compromises
The original bill, sponsored by Cobb Representative Don Parsons, drew opposition from the Georgia Municipal Association and local governments, including Cobb, who believed the original 2013 bill would “would seriously impair the ability of local governments to protect the public from the siting and expansion of towers in locations that are not ideal, or even appropriate, for towers,” while local governments believed it limited their power in zoning decisions with respect to the placement of cell phone towers.
To see talking points on the original legislation, CLICKHERE.
The substitute legislation offers a compromise for both sides and is expected to see passage in the House in these early weeks of Session. We would like to commend the industry and local government for reaching a sound compromise on legislation that will address the growing demand for wireless communication in the Metro Region.
Council Board Member and State Senator Brandon Beach looks to see his Senate Resolution, SR 735 which is a product of the Senate Study Committee on Public Transportation in the Metropolitan Atlanta Region
(SR 618) which was chaired by Senator Beach last fall.
Senator Beach stated his goal that the Committee was to examine the current transit systems in the Region and explore ways to work together in a collaborative, coordinated and seamless fashion in order to provide a better transit experience to the customer and to view it from the customer’s perspective with regards to improvement. Much of his drive was based on his own experience taking transit from Kennesaw State University to the Gwinnett Arena, which culminated into a 3.5 hour ordeal exposing deficiencies in collaboration in the various Metro transit systems. A video of the process undertook by Senator Beach is below.
|Senate Study Committee on Metro-Atlanta Transit|
The Senate Study Committee Report, compiled by staff from the Senate Research Office can be viewedHERE found that transit users in the Metro region would benefit from the creation of a website to allow travelers to view their trips and choose the routes and pay for them at a one-stop website.
Senate Resolution 735 is a product of the Senate Study Committee and is a first step in a long-overdue need to fix the ease of travel in the Metro Region. The Council commends Senator Brandon Beach, Senator Steve Gooch, Senator Fran Millar, Senator Vincent Fort and Senator Jason Carter for their work on the Committee.
Transportation has proven to be an issue that will require an all-inclusive view if we are going to solve the needs of the next generation. The challenges of the TSPLOST vote combined with the impending elections and 2015 Legislative Session will prove to be the impetus needed for solutions that address the needs of the next generation.
While the 2014 Session will not offer a comprehensive solution to the Metro transportation challenges, Senate Resolution 735 is a step in the right direction.
Check back next week for more in-depth coverage of the Georgia General Assembly.