South Carolina General Assembly
117th Session, 2007-2008

H. 3302


General Bill
Sponsors: Rep. Crawford
Introduced in the House on January 17, 2007
Currently residing in the House Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry




Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    Title 6 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:


Wireless Communications Service Facilities

Section 6-12-10.    As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise, the following terms shall mean:

(1)    'Antenna' means communications equipment that transmits and receives electromagnetic radio signals used in the provision of all types of wireless communications services.

(2)    'Collocation' means the placement or installation of wireless facilities, on existing structures, including towers, buildings, utility poles, and water tanks in a manner that negates the need to construct a new free standing support structure such as a tower.

(3)    'Equipment enclosure' means an enclosed structure, cabinet, or shelter used to contain radio or other equipment necessary for the transmission or reception of wireless communication signals.

(4)    'Existing tower' means a freestanding support structure constructed before the effective date of this chapter that is used to provide wireless services.

(5)    'Wireless support structure' means a freestanding structure such as a monopole or tower designed to support wireless facilities.

(6)    'Utility pole' means a structure owned or operated by a public utility or cooperative designed specifically for and used to carry lines, cables, or wires for telephone service, cable television, or electricity or to provide lighting.

(7)    'Application' means a formal request submitted to a county or municipality to construct or modify a wifeless support structure or a wireless facility.

(8)    'Wireless facility' means the set of equipment and network components, exclusive of the underlying support structure or tower including, but not limited to, antennas, transmitters, receiver base stations, power supplies cabling and associated equipment necessary to provide wireless services to a specific geographic area.

Section 6-12-20.    (A)    The governing body of a county or municipality may plan for and regulate the siting of wireless facilities and wireless support structures in accordance with locally adopted planning or zoning regulations and in conformity with this chapter.

(B)    A person that is engaged in the business of providing wireless telecommunications services or the wireless telecommunications infrastructure required for these services, and that proposes to construct a wireless support structure within the jurisdiction of any county or municipality which has adopted planning and zoning regulations in accordance with this chapter shall:

(1)    submit the necessary copies and attachments of the applicant's completed application to the county or municipality to construct a wireless support structure; and

(2)    comply with any local ordinances concerning land use and the appropriate permitting processes, subject to the limitations imposed by this chapter.

(C)    All records in the possession or custody of a county or municipality pertaining to this chapter are subject to the state Freedom of Information Act in the manner required by law.

(D)    After an applicant's submission of a completed application to construct a wireless support structure, a county or municipality within forty-five days commencing from the date that the application is complete or within a certain date specified in a written agreement between the county or municipality and the applicant shall:

(1)    review the completed application in light of its agreement if any, and in accordance with locally adopted zoning regulations and any locally approved plan;

(2)    make its final decision to approve or disapprove the application; and

(3)    advise the applicant in writing of its final decision.

(E)    A party aggrieved by the final action of a county or municipality denying an application under the provisions of this chapter may bring an action for review in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Section 6-12-30.    (A)    In deploying or expanding commercial and public safety wireless networks, the collocation of new antennas and equipment on existing support structures including buildings, utility poles, water towers, or existing conforming or nonconforming communication towers is preferred over constructing new towers or support structures.

(B)    Applications for collocation on existing or replacement utility poles owned and operated by a public utility or cooperative where the poles are located in a public right-of-way shall not be subject to the county or municipalities zoning, land use, or regulatory approval when the height of the pole will not be increased by more than the minimum separation safety zone required by the pole owner or by twenty-five percent of the height of the original pole, whichever is greater. Such collocations may be subject to applicable federal, state, and Public Service Commission regulation for pole attachments.

(C)    Notwithstanding subsection (B), an application for a collocation on an existing structure may be subject to the issuance of a building permit and any fee associated with such a permit, assuming that the fees are commensurate with permit fees for other uses.

(D)    The county or municipality may deny an application to construct a new wireless support structure based on an applicant's unwillingness to evaluate the reasonable feasibility of collocating new antennas and equipment on an existing structure of structures within the applicant's search ring.

(E)    The county or municipality may not deny an application to construct a new wireless communications support structure under subsection (D) if evidence is provided that collocation is technically infeasible or unduly economically burdensome on the wireless service provider.

Section 6-12-40.    A county or municipality may not:

(1)    impose environmental testing, sampling, or monitoring requirements or other compliance measures for radio frequency emissions on wireless communications facilities that are categorically excluded under applicable Federal Communication Commission rules for radio frequency emissions;

(2)    institute a moratorium on the construction of new wireless support structures lasting over forty-five days in duration or institute any such moratorium within six months of the conclusion of any previous moratorium on the construction of wireless support structures;

(3)    charge an application fee, consulting fee, or other fee associated with the submission, review, processing, and approval of a permit that is not required for other types of commercial development within the county or municipality's jurisdiction. Fees imposed by a county or municipality or by a third party entity providing review or technical consultation to the county or municipality may not exceed what is usual and customary. In no case shall total charges and fees exceed an amount set by the county or municipality for a collocation for the placement and construction of a new wireless facility or support structures;

(4)    permit third party consultants to charge wireless telecommunications service providers for any travel expenses incurred in the consultant's review of wireless telecommunications permits;

(5)    establish or enforce regulations or procedures for radio frequency signal strength or the adequacy of service quality in the consideration of an application for the construction, modification, maintenance, or operation of a wireless facility or support structure;

(6)    impose surety requirements including bonds, escrow deposits, or any other type of financial surety, to ensure that abandoned or unused facilities must be removed unless the jurisdiction imposes similar requirements on other permits for other types of commercial development or land uses. If surety requirements are imposed they must be competitively neutral, nondiscriminatory, reasonable in amount and commensurate with the historical record for local facilities and structures that fall into disuse;

(7)    prohibit the placement of emergency power systems that comply with federal and state environmental requirements;

(8)    discriminate on the basis of the ownership of any property, structure, or tower when promulgating regulations or procedures for siting wireless facilities or for evaluating applications for collocations or new wireless facilities or support structures;

(9)    condition the approval of a new support structure or collocation on the agreement of the structure owner to provide space on the structure for local governmental services at less than the market rate;

(10)    limit the duration of a permit for a wireless facility or support structure when evaluating an application for a wireless facility or collocation; and

(11)    require an applicant to construct a distributed antenna system in lieu of constructing a new wireless support structure or collocating on an existing structure, such as a utility pole, existing tower or building.

Section 6-12-50.    To the extent the provisions of this chapter conflict with any other provision of law relating to the construction and location of new wireless communications service facilities or collocation on an existing facility or structure, the provisions of this chapter control."

SECTION    2.    This act takes effect July 1, 2007.