Correcting tower misinformation: Vice Mayor Povlin

On behalf of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, I am writing regarding 5G. Recently, a flyer was distributed to the Sweet Briar residents regarding proposed 5G small cell tower deployment in Sweet Briar. There was an egregious misrepresentation of the facts in this flyer.

The Town of Farragut, through its elected representatives, Planning Commissioners and staff, HAS NOT worked with Verizon to “target” our neighborhoods for deployment of 5G small cell antennas. Further, we have worked hard to educate the residents of Farragut about the constraints placed on local governments with regard to small cell implementation and to inform them that Verizon was beginning to pursue 5G deployment in our residential areas.

To be clear, the Board, the Planning Commissioners and Town staff are incredibly frustrated that both state and federal laws completely undermine our ability to regulate small cell deployment to protect our residential areas. The Planning Commissioners approved four applications in residential areas in January because they have literally no choice. State and federal laws give the cell companies the authority to act as a public utility, and therefore the ability to access any public right- of-way.

Had the Town voted the applications down, the Town would be in direct violation of state and federal laws. We literally have no authority to stop this – none. Voting the applications down would simply expose the town to litigation we cannot win.

For the writer of this flyer, who hid behind anonymity, to distort the facts in such a manner to inflame Sweet Briar residents was manipulative and divisive. If ever there was a time for our community to be working together, residents, elected officials and Town staff, it is now.

There is much background to understand so that our collective energies can be focused on the best opportunities to explore going forward. For those interested in attending meetings and speaking during public forum, or writing letters to the editor, please be informed. We’re well past the time for discussing this amongst ourselves. We need constructive paths to pursue, and they will require all hands on deck, if we have any chance of our efforts being effective.

To better understand the issues we’re facing, the following documents can help with your understanding; a Google search should bring these various documents up: The Municipal Technical Advisory Service (mtas.tennessee.edu) provides a good report on Tennessee’s small cell legislation (Competitive Wireless Broadband Investment, Deployment, and Safety Act of 2018).

The Federal Communications Commission Rule 18-133 (Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment) governs deployment of small cells from a federal level. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 empowers the FCC to preempt local governing authority over many aspects of the implementation of 5G. Montgomery County, Maryland has filed a lawsuit against the FCC in an effort to force them to update their radiofrequency emission exposure standards.

The case is in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, case number 19-70147. Recently, the FCC promulgated Rule 19-126 with regard to human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves.

Finally, Dianne Feinstein has introduced the Restoring Local Control over Public Infrastructure Act 2019 in the (U.S.) Senate in June of 2019, although it doesn’t appear to have gone anywhere.

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin

Town of Farragut