New 5G Technology Threatens Canopy Roads

TALLAHASSEE – The Leon County Board of Commissioners is holding its only public hearing Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. on a proposed local ordinance addressing legislation recently signed into law by the governor which potentially threatens Leon County’s iconic canopy roads.

According to Assistant Leon County Attorney Jessica Icerman, the Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act (“AWIDA”) is state legislation supporting the deployment of 5G cellular technology, which, among other things, will pilot self-driving cars. AWIDA overrules local authority and ordinances protecting Tallahassee and Leon County’s cherished canopy roads and trees.

AWIDA was overwhelmingly approved by the Florida Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on June 23. See the bill here:

Icerman, speaking before the Canopy Roads Citizen Committee (CRCC) on Nov. 15, explained the consequences of that legislation. She said a small cell facility has a range of about 1000 feet, which means utility poles, spaced approximately every 1000 feet in the county’s right-of-ways (ROWs) could potentially line the roads where the wireless companies install the new technology.

She said some small cell facilities go on existing street poles or attach to the side. They can attach to a new utility pole to hold antennas if there is not an existing pole to meet their needs.

Icerman was asked, in areas where utility lines snake in and out of canopy road protection zones, if the small cell facilities could just go right down the roadway at their required interval.

“That’s right,” Icerman said.  “If it was up to us we would completely ban them from the canopy roads, but we cannot do that.”

According to notes for the upcoming public hearing, “In accordance with AWIDA, small wireless facilities must be allowed to collocate on poles located on canopy roads since regulations relating to communication service providers must be generally nondiscriminatory and competitively neutral.

Additionally, local regulations may not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting communications services. As a result of these restrictions on what and how a local government may regulate, the county cannot enact a blanket prohibition on communications facilities, specifically small wireless facilities, from the canopy roads protection zones. Any attempted blanket prohibition of communications facilities on canopy roads would likely lead to litigation with the industry.”

Icerman told the CRCC, even though this legislation particularly affects canopy roads. “(Approval for small cell facilities) will not go to CRCC, it will just go to the (county’s) Development Review Committee (DRC), where we must approve or deny an application within 60 days. If the county does not respond, it is automatically approved.”

She explained that even with DRC, there is very little chance of denying a permit.

Icerman, said, “Local governments have to allow these (small cell facilities) under most circumstances. You can’t say no unless it is for a safety purpose.”

CRCC Chair Pierce Withers asked, “So cell companies can remove trees without coming to us?”

“With respect to tree removal,” Icerman said, “under the Leon County ordinance, the cell company would have to mitigate, just like anyone else would.”

The proposed ordinance requires tree removals within the ROW to comply with the Environmental Management Act (EMA) although a separate Environmental Management Permit is not required. So new utility poles for small cell facilities would have to comply with the same regulations as any one else installing a utility pole in Leon County, regarding tree removal.

Icerman expects the infrastructure to initially be concentrated in urban areas.

Leon County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley, who also serves on CRCC agrees, “This could be a challenge to the canopy roads, but the infrastructure will start in the urban areas. It will be a while down the road before it impacts the canopy roads.”

Beyond the canopy roads, the proposed ordinance addresses the AWIDAs potential impact on neighborhoods and areas with underground facilities.

According to the ordinance, small wireless facilities are prohibited in locations subject to homeowners’ association restrictions unless those restrictions permit the facility. Small wireless facilities must also comply with nondiscriminatory undergrounding requirements that prohibit above ground structures within the ROW.

The county’s proposed ordinance is one of the first in the state to implement AWIDA and is expected to be a model for other local governments. The county attorney staff believes the proposed ordinance complies with the AWIDA while also imposing reasonable location context, color, stealth, and concealment requirements.

Tallahassee also has a proposed ordinance regulating communications facilities that is anticipated to go before the city commissioners for consideration at a public hearing in January or February 2018.

Icerman said there are more potential problems down the road. She said federal law is in the works to further pre-empt local government. “This is an area where I think the cell tower industry has gotten a hold of the legislators and held over their heads that we need 5G, that that’s what’s gonna build our economy.”

“(Legislators) are getting on board with them and we’re the ones left paying the bill,” she said.

13 Responses to "New 5G Technology Threatens Canopy Roads"

  1. Pienso Ello   December 12, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    No one enjoys canopy roads when they are stuck in traffic. Cut down the trees and widen the roads and move Tallahassee into at least the 20th Century.

  2. Lee   December 12, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    They need to let this canopy Road thing go and accept the fact that a Tallahassee wants to grow proportionately they need to bring those areas up to date. Nobody comes to Tallahassee to live because of the Canopy Roads.

  3. Snidely Whiplash   December 13, 2017 at 5:52 am

    Small cell facilities every 1000 feet driving cars at speed while the occupants are paying no attention to the road whatsoever. Wow sounds kind of easy to disable or hack those small cell facilities every 1000 feet along the roadside.
    Quite likely a terrorists dream come true with cars and trucks hurling themselves off the cliff, into the water, into the trees while Mom and Dad are drinking, kissing, or whatever as they totally trust the whiz bang technology to get them home.
    You all know the occupants will be totally distracted from the road catching up on Netflix or whatever if they got nobody to kiss in the car with them.
    And what about motorcycles? Are we gonna have old big belly gray beards hurling themselves down the road too on their self driving Harley?

    • Steve   December 13, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Self-driving cars are not about safety. They are about freeing up the driver to consume(pay for) whatever the car companies have to offer in the way of media.

    • Mike   December 15, 2017 at 9:08 am

      I agree, Snidely – many people think “gee-whiz” technology is always the answer. Has the “Smartphone” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) made life safer, more polite, more considerate, and (dare I ask) smarter? While I’m all for advances in technology, some ideas (like self-driving cars requiring extensive infrastructure everywhere) seem like a poorly throught-out invitation to chaos. None of the self-driving cars thus far tested have been immune to accidents or crashes. Would you climb in a jetliner that had crashed in more than half of it’s test flights? Self-driving cars are simply a bad idea, although we almost have that with the Smartphone junkies now. Self-driving cars may work on established routes in a dense urban area like New York, but in the middle of wooded roads that wind around with oncoming traffic – no way.

      Call me a Luddite, but whatever New Game man invents, he’s still stuck with the same old players. As you point out Snidely, no one seems to ever think their “gee-whiz” idea all the way through. I also think terrorists will soon find a way to exploit this, and laugh at how easily we provide them with new methods to kill us.

  4. lori padgett   December 13, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I’m wondering if anyone knows the dangers of 5G technology:

    •DNA single and double strand breaks
    •oxidative damage
    •disruption of cell metabolism
    •increased blood brain barrier permeability
    •melatonin reduction
    •disruption to brain glucose metabolism
    •generation of stress proteins

    The World Health Organization has also stated that radio frequency radiation as a possible carcinogen. If you do some research, its not really about moving us into the 21st century, its about control. Hell, if federal government can override our own local government, whats the point?

    • Mike   December 15, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Ms. Padgett, I imagine some lawyers who are reading your list of 5G dangers are even now preparing draft litigation filings for future cases. This will be a future boon for the Litigation Lottery community.

  5. John   December 13, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Whomever is in charge had no problems building parks right next to canopy roads and holding events at those parks during rush hour traffic. Meridian heading North between Timberlane and Millers landing gets ridiculous when baseball / soccer / softball / whatever is in season. Cut down some tree’s and build turn lanes for the love of god!

  6. R B   December 13, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Again , the solution is to acquire parrallel right of way to each existing canopy road that would permit the construction of an additional two lanes of traffic. Then you would have two lanes one way on existing canopy road and two lanes on the newly constructed roadway, there by saving the canopy on the existing two lane road ! The real problem is that the local do gooder liberals will not spend rightful taxpayer dollars on new road R/W. But they do bless us with miles of bike trails, green ways, walking trails, parks, etc that LESS than 10% of the populace actually use and at considerable cost to ALL taxpayers ! Wake up folks and change the convoluted thinking at city hall and this taxpayer funded Blueprint 2000 group.

  7. Richard P. Chase   December 13, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Wow I’m glad that this area is relatively “flat” if the instruments only have to be 1000 feet apart.

    What about hilly roads and/or curves?

    Why couldn’t they be placed in the middle of the road? (Built in traffic control}

    Could they be mounted on the trees?

    Why couldn’t this project wait until a better technical solution comes along?

  8. M   December 13, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    As Lori stated, 5G is about controlling you. And the Agenda 2030 crowd haven’t even tested it to know how harmful it is to us…

  9. Phil   January 1, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    The stated purpose of the self driving car movement is safety. As driver error is the primary cause of most car crashes, autonomous vehicles will take the driver out of the equation for the most part. The technology may save thousands of lives at a cost of trillions of dollars for the infrastructure and the cars with installed technology.

    Proponents say self driving cars will reduce congestion. But guess what? we will still be driving around on congested roads. Even if you reduce the following distance to 1 second, effectively doubling roadway capacity, the growth in population and traffic growth, the traffic volume will still eventually reach a saturation point. Back to square one with gridlock in 30-50 years.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend the trillions of dollars on rail and transit systems? From the rider’s perspective they are self driving, and the capacity potential is huge. Just look at all the people Disney is moving every day.

  10. Phil   January 1, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    As far as health effects of wireless systems are concerned I too am also very concerned. Unfortunately your friendly government (FCC) has determined that there are no ill effects and therefore one’s objection to the technology based on health effects is not acceptable or allowed. If you oppose or voice objections, it must be based on something other than health effects.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.