What Happens in Vegas Does Not Always Stay in Vegas

            Attendees at the September 27, 2019 Massachusetts Municipal Lawyers Association Annual Meeting and Conference learned that what happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.  Alan Mandl spoke on a recent Verizon Wireless petition asking the FCC to declare unlawful Clark County, Nevada’s permitting fees for small wireless facilities’ use of the public ways.  The FCC decision may impact the method for establishing cost-based permitting fees that exceed the FCC’s safe harbor caps and the level of revenues derived from these fees.   

             Alan gave an overview of municipal authority under Massachusetts law and how municipalities must balance local authority with federal statutes, court decisions and recent FCC orders.  Alan’s presentation outlined steps municipalities can undertake to reduce the risk and expense of defending decisions in federal court and better preserve local land use authority.

            Alan suggested municipalities (1) update their by-laws, ordinances and regulations to conform to current state and federal law; (2) revise the application procedures for small wireless facilities construction in the public ways, taking into account applicable shot clock intervals,  (3) conduct cost  studies to support non-recurring and recurring wireless permitting fees which exceed the FCC’s presumptively reasonable caps;  (4) adopt initial permitting orders that take into account future modifications of small wireless facilities at the same location;  (5) develop RFE requirements which are consistent with federal law; and (6) adopt agreements for small wireless  facilities attachments to municipally owned streetlight poles and other infrastructure in the public ways.   

            Alan’s advice is timely as many wireless service providers are expanding the number of small wireless facilities in the public ways and planning the addition of 5G facilities to pre-existing wireless locations. Massachusetts municipalities need to be prepared for these changes.    

Alan Mandl is Of Counsel to Ferriter Scobbo & Rodophele PC.  Alan has advised public officials on the effects of federal law on local permitting authority, grant of location applications, procedures and standards, and on agreements for wireless attachments to municipally-owned infrastructure in the public ways. He has assisted in training public officials and advised on specific wireless permitting applications. He has rate setting experience and familiarity with cost studies.  For more information on Alan’s presentation or his practice, please contact Alan at amandl@ferriterscobbo.com.