The following are the minimum criteria applicable to all telecommunications facilities. The approval authority shall not approve any request for a use permit except upon a duly filed application consistent with this section and any other written rules the City or the Planning Director may establish from time to time in any publicly stated format. In the event that a project is subject to discretionary and/or environmental review, mitigation measures, more restrictive criteria than presented in this chapter, or other conditions of approval may also be necessary. All telecommunications facilities shall comply with:
A. Form of Application. The Planning Director shall establish and maintain a list of information that must accompany every application for the installation of a telecommunications facility. Said information may include, but shall not be limited to, completed supplemental project information forms, a specific maximum requested gross cross-sectional area, or silhouette, of the facility; service area maps, network maps, alternative site analysis, visual impact demonstrations including mock-ups and/or photo-montages, facility design alternatives to the proposal, visual impact analysis, NIER (nonionizing electromagnetic radiation) exposure studies, title reports identifying legal access, security programs, lists of other nearby telecommunications facilities, and deposits for peer review. The Planning Director may release an applicant from having to provide one or more of the pieces of information on this list upon a finding that in the specific case involved said information is not necessary to process or make a decision on the application being submitted. All applications shall require the applicant to demonstrate that the proposed project will be in planned compliance with all applicable health and safety laws, regulations or other rules, which includes without limitation all building codes, electric codes and all FCC rules for human exposure to RF emissions.
B. Application Review.
1. Authorization. The Planning Director is explicitly authorized at his/her discretion to employ on behalf of the City an independent technical expert in connection with any permit authorized under this chapter to review any technical materials submitted including, but not limited to, those required under this section and in those cases where a technical demonstration of unavoidable need or unavailability of alternatives is required.
2. Scope. The Planning Director may request an independent consultant review on any issue that involves specialized or expert knowledge in connection with wireless facilities deployment or permit applications for wireless facilities, which include without limitation: (a) permit application completeness and/or accuracy; (b) pre-construction planned compliance with applicable regulations for human exposure to RF emissions; (c) post-construction actual compliance with applicable regulations for human exposure to RF emissions; (d) whether and to what extent a proposed project will address a gap in the applicant’s wireless services; (e) whether and to what extent any technically feasible and/or potentially available alternative sites or concealment techniques may exist; (f) the applicability, reliability and/or sufficiency of any information, analyses or methodologies used by the applicant to reach any conclusions about any issue with the City’s discretion to review; and (g) any other issue identified by the Planning Director that requires expert or specialized knowledge. The Planning Director may request that the independent consultant prepare written reports, testify at public meetings, hearings and/or appeals and attend meetings with City staff and/or the applicant.
3. Consultant Fees – Deposits. The applicant shall pay all the costs of said review, including any administrative costs incurred by the City. In the event that the Planning Director elects to retain an independent consultant in connection with any permit application, the applicant shall be responsible for the reasonable costs in connection with the services provided, which may include without limitation any costs incurred by the independent consultant to attend and participate in any meetings or hearings. Before the independent consultant may perform any services, the applicant shall tender to the City a deposit in an amount equal to the estimated cost for the services to be provided, as determined by the Planning Director. The Planning Director may request additional deposits as reasonably necessary to ensure sufficient funds are available to cover the reasonable costs in connection with the independent consultant’s services. In the event that the deposit exceeds the total costs for consultant’s services, the Planning Director shall promptly return any unused funds to the applicant after the wireless facility has been installed and passes a final inspection by the Building Official or his or her designee. In the event that the reasonable costs for the independent consultant’s services exceed the deposit, the Planning Director shall invoice the applicant for the balance. The City shall not issue any construction or grading permit to any applicant with any unpaid deposit requests or invoices.
4. Proprietary Information. Any proprietary information disclosed to the City or the expert hired shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed to any third party.
C. Procedures for a Duly Filed Application. Any application for a use permit will not be considered duly filed unless submitted in accordance with the procedures in this subsection.
1. Pre-Submittal Conference. Before application submittal, the applicant must schedule and attend a pre-submittal conference with the Planning Director for all proposed projects subject to a use permit. Pre-submittal conferences for all other proposed projects are strongly encouraged but not required. The pre-submittal conference is intended to streamline the review process through informal discussion that includes, without limitation, the appropriate project classification and review process, any latent issues in connection with the proposed or existing wireless tower or base station, including compliance with generally applicable rules for public health and safety; potential concealment issues or concerns (if applicable); coordination with other City departments responsible for application review; and application completeness issues. To mitigate unnecessary delays due to application incompleteness, applicants are encouraged (but not required) to bring any draft applications or other materials so that City staff may provide informal feedback and guidance about whether such applications or other materials may be incomplete or unacceptable. The Planning Director shall use reasonable efforts to provide the applicant with an appointment within five working days after the Director receives a written request and any applicable fee or deposit to reimburse the City for its reasonable costs to provide the services rendered in the pre-submittal conference.
2. Submittal Appointment. All applications must be submitted to the City at a pre-scheduled appointment with the Planning Director. Applicants may generally submit one application per appointment, but may schedule successive appointments for multiple applications whenever feasible and not prejudicial to other applicants. The Planning Director shall use reasonable efforts to provide the applicant with an appointment within five working days after the Planning Director receives a written request and, if applicable, confirms that the applicant complied with the pre-submittal conference requirement. Any application received without an appointment, whether delivered in person, by mail or through any other means, will not be considered duly filed unless the applicant received a written exemption from the Director at a pre-submittal conference.
D. Procedures for a Community Meeting. The applicant shall schedule and hold a community meeting at least two weeks before the date of the Planning Commission meeting at which the application will be heard to provide residents information about the application for a wireless facility and streamline the review process by providing applicants an opportunity to consider residents’ suggestions prior to a public hearing before the Planning Commission. Applicants are encouraged to bring preliminary drawings, RF emissions information, and other materials that may assist the residents’ understanding of the project. The community meeting shall be held at a location within the City. If multiple applications are submitted, one meeting that includes all of the applications submitted on the same day shall be sufficient to satisfy this subsection. A mock-up of the proposed project shall be erected at the subject site before the meeting. The primary location and all alternative sites shall be presented to the community as well as the reasons for the selection of the primary location. Notice of the date, time and place of such meeting shall be sent at least seven days before the meeting and shall be filed with the Planning Department. The applicant should provide notice in accordance with SMC 17.460.020, Procedure, except as modified in this subsection, to all property owners of parcels within 600 feet of the boundaries of the subject parcel on which the applicant intends to propose the facility or modification. No general circulation or posted notice is required.
1. If the hearing on the application is continued by the Planning Commission, the applicant is encouraged, but not required, to hold a further meeting with the persons entitled to notice pursuant to subparagraph (a) at least one week prior to the continued hearing.
2. If a meeting pursuant to subparagraph (b) results in any modifications to the project prior to the Planning Commission hearing on the project, the applicant shall (a) notify the director of the proposed modifications, and (b) explain to the Planning Commission at the hearing on the matter any discrepancy between the project as proposed in the notice sent pursuant to subparagraph (a) and the project as presented to the Planning Commission.
E. Applications Deemed Withdrawn. To promote efficient review and timely decisions, and in accordance with SMC 17.400.030 (Application filing and review), any application governed under this section will be automatically deemed withdrawn by the applicant when the applicant fails to tender a substantive response to the Planning Department within 90 calendar days after the Planning Department deems the application incomplete in a written notice to the applicant. The Planning Director may, in his/her discretion, grant a written extension for up to an additional 30 calendar days when the applicant submits a written request prior to the ninetieth day that shows good cause to grant the extension. Delays due to circumstances outside the applicant’s reasonable control will be considered good cause to grant the extension. (Ord. 1123 § 3 (Exh. A § 4), 2019)