Nevada City OKs urgency ordinance regulating telecommunications |

Nevada City OKs urgency ordinance regulating telecommunications

Nevada City’s city council has adopted an interim urgency ordinance regarding the regulation of wireless facilities.

The emergency ordinance, designed to help the city retain control over who installs wireless arrays in town, went into effect immediately and will last 45 days.

According to Scott Porter, an attorney with Nevada City’s contracted law firm, this enacts a temporary moratorium so that the city has time to draft, review and approve a permanent ordinance.

Three years ago, Nevada City denied a proposal by Verizon to install a wireless array downtown. The company appealed the decision but then withdrew its application this July. Verizon told Nevada City it wants to install “small cell facilities” on existing power or telephone poles downtown, however.

In response, council member Reinette Senum asked the council to consider a moratorium while staff crafted an ordinance to include limits on co-location of small cell facilities on PG&E poles and other utility-company owned structures, and set limits on output to protect public health, safety and welfare.

On Wednesday, the council approved a contract with Center for Municipal Solutions, an organization that helps local municipalities in their dealings with telecommunications service providers and applicants. The center will review and comment on the permanent ordinance that is being drafted by Porter, and will also review any future applications that come in. The center will provide five free hours of service with one meeting; any time in excess of that will be charged at $300 per hour, to be paid by the applicants.

Porter then outlined the interim urgency ordinance, adding it was the third one he has drafted this month. The moratorium will last 45 days but can be extended, Porter said, adding that it cannot last more than two years.

The ordinance set a three-tiered system for approval. The lowest tier would be issued if all code requirements are met, but because the city has not yet established the requisite wireless design guidelines, that permit cannot actually be granted.

The second tier is for a minor permit, which is required if a new facility is in the Scenic Combining District or in a residential zoning designation. A major permit issued by the Planning Commission would be required if a new facility is in a residential zone or in the Historic Combining District. After some discussion, the Seven Hills Business District was to be added as a zone requiring a permit.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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