House Bill 310 – Wireless Communications Infrastructure Siting – passed both the NC House and Senate overwhelmingly and was signed by the Governor on July 21, 2017 – Session Law 2017-159. Among the legislative findings was that, “[t]he design, engineering, permitting, construction, modification, maintenance, and operation of wireless facilities are instrumental to the provision of emergency services and to increasing access to advanced technology and information for the citizens of North Carolina.”

The law amends the laws that apply to cities and the North Carolina Department of Transportation with respect to the siting and collocation of small wireless facilities in the public right-of-way and on utility poles. It also sets uniform rates and procedures for permits that apply to small wireless facilities. A copy of the law can be found here http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H310v7.pdf

A small wireless facility is a wireless facility where (1) the antenna is or could be located within an enclosure of no more than six cubic feet; and (2) all other wireless equipment associated with the facility has a cumulative volume of no more than 28 cubic feet. Such facilities are used to extend the geographical reach and capacity of wireless services.

Small wireless facilities attached to poles that are no more than 50 feet and where the collocated facilities do not extend more than 10 feet off the top of a structure would be subject to more limited review by a city.

While the law streamlines the process for the permitting of small wireless facilities, cities would retain the authority to review permits and deny applications for the following reasons: (1) public safety; (2) objective design standards for decorative poles; (3) stealth and concealment; (4) reasonable spacing; and (5) compliance with historic preservation laws and regulations.

Permit fees and processes would be capped at $100 per small cell wireless facility for the first five in an applications and $50 for each additional facility in an application. Other fees would be limited, as well.