Queen Creek eyes small-cell zoning changes as rights-of-way rules shift

Could more small wireless facilities find their way onto utility poles in the town of Queen Creek?

The Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission will meet Tuesday, Feb. 6 — a week earlier than usual — in the Queen Creek Community Chambers building at 20727 E. Civic Parkway. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)

Members of the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss how to regulate the matter during a public hearing at this month’s regular meeting. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 6 — a week earlier than usual — in the Queen Creek Community Chambers, 20727 E. Civic Parkway.

The study session will begin at 6 p.m. The regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m.

During the public hearing, the Commission could take action on Case P18-0005 regarding small cell wireless facilities. It is a two-part request by town staff to amend Section 6.9 of the Zoning Ordinance “Wireless Communications” to include:

  • new provisions related to small wireless facilities; and
  • an amendment to Town Code Chapter 16 “Utilities” including new provisions related to small wireless facilities and rates and fees for the use of the public right-of-way and town structures, according to a staff memo.

The staff recommendations were made “to enhance the aesthetic quality of the natural and built environment of the community; to maintain and enhance the desirable character of the community; and to facilitate quality development in accordance with the town’s adopted General Plan and Zoning Ordinance,” according to the proposed amendment.

The staff memo was prepared by Queen Creek Planning Administrator Brett Burningham and Assistant Town Manager Bruce Gardner.

Town officials say a new state statute was approved by the Arizona Legislature last summer allowing small wireless facilities to be placed on utility poles in public rights-of-way.

The legislation required municipal regulations be in place or implemented within six months.

To accommodate the new legislation, town staff is recommending the Zoning Ordinance define a small wireless facility as a wireless facility that meets certain qualifications.

The amendment also would regulate the construction and usage of monopoles within the right-of-way. It would set standards for issues such as locations, security fencing, lighting and landscaping, among others.

The amendment would define a monopole as a wireless support structure that is not more than 40 inches in diameter at the ground level and that has all of the wireless facilities mounted on or inside of the pole. It does not include utility poles or towers.

In tandem with the proposed amendments, the Commission will review the proposed fees associated with the small cell wireless facilities.

The public hearing is the first of a two-part process so the town can update the Town Code and Zoning Ordinance to include a small wireless facility application and fee system by Feb. 9.

The second is to be heard by the Queen Creek Town Council, which has scheduled the matter as a public hearing on its Feb. 7 public hearing consent agenda.

Other items that matter:

Queen Creek Town Council is also considering the following items at its regular meeting, which is slated for Wednesday, Feb. 7:

  • A public hearing regarding P17-0176, the Allstate Utility Construction Rezone. This is a request to rezone 4.84 acres east of the southeast corer of Germann and Rittenhouse roads from R1-43 (Rural Estate District) to EMP-A (Employment Type-A) to allow for a utility construction business.
  • A consent agenda item regarding the possible approval of P17-0172, Lennar at Ocotillo Heights Phase I Residential Design Review. Residential developer Lennar Homes is requesting approval of four new standard plans with three elevations each to be constructed on 67 lots in Phase I of the Ocotillo Heights subdivision at the southwest corner of Ocotillo and Signal Butte roads.
  • A consent agenda item regarding the possible approval of RZ16-045, Malone Place Planned Area Development Scrivener’s Error Correction. This is a request by town staff to correct a scrivener’s error by adding C-2/PAD to the planning commission staff report and correcting Ordinance 621-16. The original case included approximately 377 acres generally at the southeast corner of Signal Butte and Queen Creek roads.

The Planning and Zoning Commission advises the town council in decisions pertaining to amendments to the General Plan, the Zoning Ordinance and applications for development.

Commission members are: Chairman Gregory Arrington, Vice Chairman Shaine Alleman and commissioners Josh Ehmke, Amber Gough, Alex Matheson, Steve Sossaman and Troy Young.

The commission generally meets on the second Wednesday of each month, which means the next session would fall on Feb. 14.

The meeting date was changed so commissioners could spend the Valentine’s Day holiday with their families, Brett Burningham, planning administrator, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Meetings are broadcast live at queencreek.org and at Ustream.tv/councilmeeting. Recordings of previous meetings are available on the town’s website.

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