Chapter 29 ZONING*
Section 29-21.3 Communication antennas and towers.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section
(1) Provide for the appropriate location and development of communications
systems to serve the citizens and businesses of the City.
(2) Minimize adverse visual impacts of communications antennas
and towers through careful
design, siting, landscape screening and innovative camouflaging techniques.
(3) Protect residential areas/land uses from potential adverse
impacts of towers.
(4) Maximize the use of existing and new towers so as to minimize
the need to construct new
or additional facilities.
(5) Maximize and encourage the use of disguised support structures
and antenna support
structures so as to ensure the architectural integrity of designated areas within the City and the
scenic quality of protected natural habitats.
(6) To promote and encourage shared use/co-location of towers
as a primary option rather than
construction of additional towers.
(b) Definitions. As used in this
section, the following terms shall have the meanings and
Antenna. Any device that transmits or receives radio frequency signals for voice,
data or video
communications purposes including, but not limited to, television, AM/FM radio, microwave,
cellular telephone and similar forms of communications. The term shall exclude satellite earth
station antennas less than six feet in diameter and any receive-only home television antennas.
Antenna Support Structure. Any building or other structure such as a water tower,
other than a
tower or a disguised support structure as herein defined, which can be used for the location of
Communications Equipment Cabinet. A structure for the protection and security
communications equipment associated with one or more antennas where direct access to
equipment is provided from the exterior.
Communications Equipment Shelter. A building for the protection and security of
communications equipment associated with one or more antennas and where access to equipment
is gained from the interior of the building.
Disguised Support Structure. Any freestanding, man made structure used for the
communications antennas, the presence of which is camouflaged or concealed as an architectural
or natural feature. Such structures may include but are not limited to clock towers, campaniles,
observation towers, light standards, flag poles and artificial trees.
FAA. The Federal Aviation Administration.
FCC. The Federal Communications Commission.
Height. The vertical distance measured from the base of the structure at ground
level to its
highest point and including the main structure and all attachments thereto.
Tower. A structure designed for the support of one or more antennas including
self-supporting (lattice) towers or monopoles but not disguised support structures or antenna
support structures as herein defined. The term shall not include any support structure owned and
operated by an amateur radio operator licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Permitted Uses. The following uses shall be permitted in any zoning district subject to
the issuance of a building permit by the community development department, provided that
drawings and other documentation are submitted showing compliance with paragraph (f) of this
(1) The attachment of additional or replacement antennas to any
tower; or, the addition of
communications equipment shelters or cabinets to any tower site existing on December 15, 1997
or subsequently approved in accordance with these regulations.
(2) The mounting of antennas on any existing antenna support
structure. This shall not include
the mounting of antennas on signs.
(3) The installation of antennas or towers on structures or land
owned by the City, following
approval by the City Council.
(4) The one-time replacement or modification (on the same site)
of any tower existing on
December 15, 1997 so long as the purpose of the replacement is to accommodate shared use of
the tower or to eliminate a safety hazard. The height of the new tower may exceed that of the
original by not more than 20 feet.
The following use shall be permitted in any zoning district other than zoning districts
R-2, R-3, R-4, RMH and PUD subject to the issuance of a building permit by the community
development department, provided that drawings and other documentation are submitted
showing compliance with paragraph (f) of this section:
(1) The construction of a disguised support
structure provided that all related equipment
shall be placed underground or concealed within the structure.
The requirements of this section shall take precedence over those of the underlying
Appeals. Appeals from the denial of a building permit, by the director of community
development, under subsection (c), when the denial is based on failure to comply with the
provisions of this section, shall be made to the board of adjustment. Any decision of the board of
adjustment upholding a decision to deny a building permit under subsection (c) shall be in
writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in the written record.
(e) Conditional Uses. It is the policy of the City of Columbia
to minimize the number of
towers and to encourage the co-location of antennas of more than one wireless communications
service provider on a single tower.
Construction of new communications towers or any alteration of a communications tower
covered under subsection (c) above shall be allowed in all zoning districts except for A-1, R-1,
R-2, R-3, R-4, RMH & PUD only after the issuance of a conditional use permit.
Construction of disguised support structures shall be allowed in zoning districts A-1,
R-3, R-4, RMH and PUD only after the issuance of a conditional use permit.
(1) Applications for conditional use permits shall be filed and
processed in the manner
established in section 29-23. In addition, the application shall also include the following:
a. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all owners (including
the applicant) of other
towers or disguised support structures which are capable of providing a location to construct the
telecommunications facilities that are planned to be housed or located on the tower within the
City of Columbia and within one half mile of the City limits of the City of Columbia.
b. Written documentation that the applicant made diligent but
unsuccessful efforts for
permission to install or co-locate the applicants telecommunications facilities on City-owned
towers or antenna support structures.
c. Written documentation that the applicant made diligent but
unsuccessful efforts to install or
co-locate the applicants telecommunications facilities on towers or useable antenna support
structures owned by other persons.
d. Written documentation stating whether the applicants
telecommunications facilities are
technically capable of being installed or co-located on another persons tower or support
e. If the applicant asserts that its antenna or other facilities
are technically infeasible of being
installed or co-located on another persons tower or support structure, a written statement from
the applicant setting forth in detail the reason(s) with regard to each person contacted, why such
installation or co-location is technically or economically infeasible.
f. If the tower is designed to accommodate one or more additional
carriers, the application shall
designate the nature of the co-location that will be accommodated.
g. A site plan drawn to scale specifying the location of the
tower, its planned height, guy
anchors (if any), equipment shelters and cabinets, parking layout, landscaping, screening and the
zoning designation of the site.
Items a through g above shall be certified as to accuracy by a professional engineer.
(2) In rendering its decision on a conditional use permit request,
the Board of Adjustment shall
consider the following:
a. Whether or not existing towers are located within the geographic
area necessary to meet the
applicants engineering requirements.
b. Whether or not existing towers, structures or buildings within
the applicants required
geographic area are of sufficient height to meet system engineering requirements.
c. Whether or not existing towers or structures have sufficient
structural strength to support the
applicants proposed antennas.
d. Whether or not the fees, costs, or other contractual terms
required by the owner(s) of
existing tower(s), structure(s) or building(s) within the required geographic area of the applicant
or to retrofit the existing tower(s) or structure(s) are reasonable.
e. Whether or not there are other limiting conditions that render
existing towers, structures or
buildings within the applicants required geographic area unsuitable.
f. Whether or not the proposal minimizes the number and size
of towers or structures that will
be required in the area.
g. Whether or not the applicant has previously failed to take
advantage of available shared use
opportunities provided by this section or otherwise.
h. Whether or not the applicant has provided sufficient evidence
indicating that the tower will
be made available for use by others, subject to reasonable technical limitations and reasonable
(3) Written record. Any decision to deny a request
to construct or alter a tower shall be in
writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in the written record.
(f) General Requirements. The requirements set forth in
this section shall be applicable to all
antenna towers installed, built or altered after
December 15, 1997 to the full extent permitted by
(1) Regulatory Compliance. All antennas and towers shall
meet or exceed current standards
and regulations of the FAA, FCC and any other state or federal agency with the authority to
regulate communications antennas and towers. Should such standards or regulations be
amended, then the owner shall bring such devises and structures into compliance with the revised
standards or regulations within the time period mandated by the controlling agency.
(2) Security. All antennas and towers shall be protected
from unauthorized access by
appropriate security devices. A description of proposed security measures shall be provided as
part of any application to install, build or alter antennas or towers. Additional measures may
required as deemed necessary by the Board of Adjustment in the case of a conditional use permit.
(3) Lighting. Antennas and towers shall not be lighted
unless required by the FAA or other
state or federal agency with authority to regulate, in which case a description of the required
lighting scheme will be made a part of the application to install, build or alter the antenna or
tower. Strobe lights shall not be used unless required by the FAA or other state or federal agency
with authority to regulate.
(4) Advertising. Placement of advertising on structures
regulated by this section is prohibited.
(5) Height. The height of a tower shall be governed by
the underlying zoning district; however,
when rendering its decision on a conditional use permit for a new tower, the Board of
Adjustment may allow an increase in height as it deems appropriate.
a. Towers shall maintain a galvanized steel finish or, subject
to the requirements of the FAA or
any applicable state or federal agency, be painted a neutral color consistent with the natural or
built environment of the site.
b. Equipment shelters, cabinets and guy anchors shall be screened from view by
screen consisting of a masonry wall, wood fence, landscaping material, or combination thereof,
at least eight (8) feet in height. The required screening shall have an opacity of eighty (80)
percent year around and, if landscaping is used, the eighty (80) percent opacity and eight-foot
minimum height shall be achieved within four (4) full growing seasons.
c. All towers shall meet the setback and yard requirements of
the applicable zoning district. In
addition, all towers shall be separated from any off-site residential structure, or the boundary of
any residentially-zoned property, a distance equal to the height of the tower.
d. Ground anchors of all guyed towers shall be located on the
same parcel as the tower and
meet the setbacks of the applicable zoning district.
e. On-site parking for periodic maintenance and service shall
be provided at all tower locations
(except for District C-2).
f. The horizontal dimensions of a communications equipment cabinet
shall not exceed four feet
by six feet.
g. Materials or equipment which is not in direct support of an
antenna shall not be stored in a
Obsolete tower structures and antennas. Any tower or disguised support structure which is
not occupied by active antennas for a period of twelve (12) months or any antenna which is not
used for a period of twelve (12) months shall be removed at the owner's expense. The director of
community development is authorized to order the owner of any private property to remove any
unused tower or antenna on the owner's property within a reasonable time specified by the
director. The order shall require the tower or antenna to be removed unless the owner, within ten
(10) days of receipt of the order, appeals the matter to the board of adjustment pursuant to
section 29-31. If the board finds that a tower has not been occupied by active antennas for twelve
(12) months or an antenna has not been used for twelve (12) months, it shall order the tower or
antenna to be removed within a specified time.
If the unused tower or antenna is not removed as specified in an unappealed order of
of community development or as specified by the board of adjustment, the director of community
development may cause the tower or antenna to be removed. The director of community
development shall submit the actual cost of such removal to the owner of the property. If the
owner does not pay the cost within thirty (30) days of receipt, the director of community
development shall certify the cost to the director of finance who shall cause a special tax bill
against the property to be prepared and collected. The tax bill shall be due and payable from the
date of issuance and shall be a lien on the property from the date of issuance until paid. Tax bills
issued pursuant to this section shall bear interest from the date of issuance at the rate of nine (9)
per cent per annum.
(h) Commercial Operation of Unlawful Towers Or Antennas. Not
withstanding any right that
may exist for a governmental entity to operate or construct a tower or structure, it shall be
unlawful for any person to erect or operate for any private commercial purpose any new antenna,
tower or disguised support structure in violation of any provision of this section regardless of
whether such antenna or structure is located on land belonging to a governmental entity.
(Ord. No. 15471, § 1, 1-5-98
; Ord. No. 21095, § 13, 9-19-11)
(Ord. 21095, Amended, 09/19/2011, Prior Text; 15471, Added, 01/05/1998)