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Transmission Facilities Coordination Group

ZTA Information

T he County Executive has released the draft Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) in order to obtain public comments before submitting legislation to the County Council.  Public comments can be submitted online at or by email to AntennaZTA@montgomerycountymd.govCounty staff will use the public comments to create Frequently Asked Questions and answers, to answer comment questions about the ZTA.

The purpose of the ZTA is to amend the County’s zoning code to address deployment of small antennas at heights of 19 to 45 feet above ground by:

  • Protecting the community’s interest in managing commercial use of public property, maintaining attractive roads and neighborhoods, and ensuring appropriate public input.
  • Supporting the community’s interest in having access to robust mobile broadband services and the evolving technical needs of the wireless industry.
  • Ensuring the County’s continued compliance with federal law and any FCC rulings.

Under federal law, the County may not have the effect of prohibiting the provision of telecommunications services and the County must act on applications to deploy new antennas within specific time limits.  The ZTA is designed to provide reasonable means for providers to deploy antennas without substantially altering the residential character of neighborhoods. The ZTA would:
  • Allow replacement of pre-existing streetlights with new poles, subject to compatibility requirements and most commonly a 5-foot limit on increased height, to allow better service without adding more poles.
  • Allow pole replacements in downtown areas, such as Silver Spring and Bethesda, and on lower height commercial retail buildings, to provide alternatives to more residential deployments.
  • Retain the current prohibition on attaching antennas on detach houses and duplexes, and extend the prohibition to attaching on townhouses as well.

Click here for the full draft ZTA.
Click here for the power presentation provided at the June 14, 2017 community meeting.
The current Zoning Ordinance is available here (see Montgomery County Zoning Ordinance (2014), Chapter 59, Article 59-3, Sections 3.5.2.C and 3.5.14.C )

Small Antenna Information

T he County Council provided responses to Frequently Asked Questions in October 2016, which can be found here . The County Council’s Small Cell information page can be found here .  Check back soon for more information. 

Radio Frequency (RF) Emissions

M any residents have expressed concern about the health effects of radio frequency (RF) emissions.  Under federal law, the County may not “regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the [FCC’s] regulations concerning such emissions.”  In other words, the County may enforce and require compliance with FCC regulations, but not create additional requirements. That said, the County and other local elected officials have taken steps to lobby the FCC to do more to address residents’ concerns about RF emissions:

  • Summary of the May 2017 County Executive and Council and Congressional Delegation meeting with the FCC – click here
  • Congressman Delaney’s February 2017 small cell antenna letter to the FCC – click here
  • County Executive January 2017 letter to FCC requesting the FCC complete its 2013 proceeding on the health effects of RF emissions – click here
  • Montgomery County vs FCC 4th Circuit decision denying the County’s appeal of the FCC’s wireless facilities minor modification (Section 6409) Order – click here
  • Montgomery County 2017 response to FCC Mobilitie Petition – click here for Comments and Reply Comments
  • Montgomery County Joint Smart Communities Siting Coalition response to FCC Mobilitie Petition – click here for Comments and Reply Comments
  • GAO July 2012 Report – Telecommunications Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should be Reassessed – click here

Residents’ Concerns About RF Emissions

R OCKVILLE, Md., November 4, 2016—Montgomery County representatives and members of the County Council recently met with residents at an informational forum at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg on a proposal that would allow for the installation of small cell antennas and poles in public rights-of-way. The video below is a quick summary of the residents' health and safety concerns. The full video of the meeting may be viewed in its entirety here .



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