When It Comes to Cell Towers, Lawmakers Are Divided on Local Government Role

Feb 9, 2018

Credit Michael Dorausch / Flickr

How much control should local governments have over where cell towers go up? Lawmakers in Richmond are divided.

Can you hear me now? That’s the question some lawmakers are asking about local zoning hearings they say are dragging on far too long. Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore of Scott County says there’s just too much red tape involved in putting up a cell tower.

“It’s unpredictable. It takes a long time, up to two years. And it shouldn’t take that long of time for somebody who wants to invest in Virginia and help our consumers have access to cell towers.”

That’s why he’s pushing a bill that would limit some local control over where cell towers can be placed. Local governments across Virginia have been lobbying against the bill, which they say strips them of important zoning tools. Republican Delegate Mark Cole of Fredericksburg.

“The first time that a tower goes up near one of your neighborhoods, all the residents of that neighborhood are going to call their supervisor to complain about the tower going up and the supervisor is going to say hey don’t call me. Talk to your delegate. So you’re going to wish you put a no vote on this bill.”

The bill passed the House 56 to 41, and the vote was not along party lines. Seventeen Democrats voted in favor, and 11 Republicans voted against.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.