When Bexley City Council convenes its first regular meeting of 2020 on Tuesday, Jan. 14, the agenda will include Ordinance 43-19, legislation that would give the city the authority to determine where new wireless towers are placed.

"We have 5G coming for cellular companies, and this (legislation) puts a plan in place for being involved in the design and placement of those new cell towers," council member Troy Markham, chairman of the service committee, said when he introduced the legislation Dec. 10.

If approved, the legislation would amend the city's right-of-way ordinance, Chapter 1028.09, which regulates how improvements may be made to the public right of way, Mayor Ben Kessler said.

"We wanted to get a first reading under our belt because there have been some fairly recent and swift movements in the 5G space in central Ohio," he said, "and we thought it was important to get going on it."

According to the legislation, posted on the city's website, bexley.org, the city's right-of-way ordinance would be amended to read in part, "In addition to the other requirements set forth herein and in the Regulation, each Certificate Holder, except Residential Purpose Certificate Holder shall: (a) Use its best efforts to cooperate with other Certificate Holders and the City for the best, most efficient, most aesthetic and least obtrusive use of Rights-of-Way, consistent with Public Health, Safety and Welfare and to minimize traffic and other disruptions including street cuts."

Kessler said Bexley was one of dozens of Ohio cities, including members of the Central Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, that joined together and filed lawsuits to challenge previous state legislation that granted wireless companies the sole discretion to place wireless towers in the public right of way. Ohio Senate Bill 331, which took effect in March 2017, enabled wireless companies to use municipal rights of way and attach small-cell wireless technology to city facilities to support new 5G technology, according to the Ohio Municipal League's summary of the legislation.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye ruled June 2, 2017, the bill violated the "single-subject" rule in the Ohio Constitution. In response, the Ohio General Assembly enacted House Bill 478 on April 11, 2018, as a replacement for SB 331.

The legislation, which became effective Aug. 1, 2018, allows municipalities to create design guidelines that determine the placement of wireless towers on streets, sidewalks and other public rights of way, as well as how the structures are screened from view, Kessler said.

The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.

The third and final reading, including a council vote, tentatively is scheduled for council's Jan. 28 meeting.

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