Homeowners speak out against plans to build 2 Small Cell towers in Liberty Township

WLWT Dec 15, 2015  Cincinnati, Ohio

Community stops new DAS cell tower system from being installed based on concerns of property values declining


Liberty Township neighbors fight cell tower construction

12 Local News  Dec 9, 2015  Cincinnati, Ohio

Liberty Township, Ohio (Jeff Hirsh) – Would you like a cellphone tower in your front yard? Good chance the answer is no way and what if the construction took you by surprise? Some Liberty Township residents are angry about what’s being done about their complaints. Most cellphone towers are in industrial or commercial areas. But Mike Tsirelis looked out his window Monday, Dec. 7, at the Wynds of Liberty subdivision and saw workers getting ready to dig. “So I let them know I wasn’t going to let them do anything until at least I saw paperwork. No one had the decency to let me know what was going on. No one had contacted me, talked to me, given me the chance to ask any questions and I wasn’t going to allow it,” said Tsirelis. And the contractors left but a few blocks away, where folks were not home, part of the lawn was taken out and the site readied for a cell tower. Cincinnati Bell did have permits for the work. The phone company has what’s called an “easement,” the right to put in utilities in the space between the sidewalk and the pavement. In some neighborhoods that just looks like another telephone pole but in the Wynds of Liberty, there are no telephone poles. Township trustee Christine Matacic said, “And when you have a lot of underground wiring and then something pops up in your front yard it is concerning.” One of the nice things about the neighborhood is there are no utility lines in the streets, everything is underground. They were color coded for the construction, which did not happen here; gas, electric, phone, all underground. There is consistency and sticking a cellphone tower right in front of a house would break that consistency. Twice as high as the street light, 36 feet is what officials said it would be from the ground to the top of the pole. Liberty Township officials were checking what’s legal; it’s complicated. Township trustee Tom Farrell said, “The last laws put in place were in 1996, way before data was ever an issue. Today data is an issue, so the number of towers is increasing.” Cincinnati Bell has now put things on pause and they will fill the hole while contemplating future options. But some 250 cell towers are slated for installation in greater Cincinnati. The next call may be for you. Cincinnati Bell spokesperson Josh Pichler said the company had worked with township and Butler County officials to identify tower sites to help improve cellphone reception. However, the company says it will now talk with homeowners near the two Liberty Township locations before deciding what to do next; adding the company takes its role in the local community seriously and is working to find a solution.




Cleveland & 79 Ohio cities sue state, claiming wireless equipment law violates home rule

By Emily Bamforth, cleveland.com ebamforth@cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland is joining 79 other Ohio cities in suing the state over a wireless network law, which officials say intrudes on municipalities’ home rule rights to decide where cell phone antennae and equipment can be erected.

The state legislature passed the law as part of Senate Bill 331 in the lame-duck session last year. The bill was a so-called Christmas tree, hung with amendments addressing pet-store regulations, bestiality and the minimum wage.

AT&T sought the provision to ensure it could install equipment for 5G mobile networks.

“We have rights as a city, and we have those rights for us to be able to provide for our citizens,” Mayor Frank Jackson said in a Monday morning press conference. “To have any corporation — or in this case a wireless company — come in and usurp those rights for their economic benefit is not correct.”

Cleveland has asked Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to stop the law, which takes effect Tuesday. Similar lawsuits are being filed  in county courts across the state.

According to the complaint, the city is balking at the conditions placed on municipalities’ ability to refuse or deny wireless companies from placing wireless equipment in public spaces. The city claims the bill is not a “general law,” meaning it doesn’t extend to all parts of the state, specifically not to townships and county public ways.


The complaint also addresses a “logrolling” aspect to the bill’s amendments, meaning that according to the Ohio Constitution, no bill should have more than one subject.

Under the law, municipalities get 90 days to approve wireless equipment, with a cap on the amount that cities can charge wireless companies.

The bill also places a list of conditions on what cities can require of wireless companies, according to the city’s complaint. For example, a municipality can’t require a wireless company to justify the need for a new micro wireless facility or wireless support structure or imposing “unreasonable requirements” about equipments’ appearance.

Independence Mayor Anthony Togliatti also spoke at the press conference.

“Many of the communities that are part of this legal battle have historic areas in their towns that they’ve spent millions of dollars preserving,” he said.

Read the full lawsuit in the document viewer below.




Ohio Cities Oppose Wireless Equipment Law


CLEVELAND (CN) – Joining dozens of other cities across the state, Cleveland claims in court that an Ohio law taking effect Tuesday, originally meant to regulate dog sales, will violate its home-rule rights to decide where wireless equipment can be installed.

Ohio Senate Bill 331 was originally introduced to regulate the retail sale of dogs, but it was later amended to add unrelated regulations during the lame-duck session that followed November’s general election.

The first version of the bill was proposed in May 2016 as a way to eliminate municipal ordinances that limited where pet stores could buy their dogs.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the measure was supported by Petland, a franchisor of pet stores based in Chillicothe, Ohio, but was opposed by animal-welfare groups that want to prevent pet stores from getting animals from high-volume breeders, known colloquially as puppy mills.

The bill passed the Ohio Senate in its original form in a little over a week, but then sat in the Ohio House of Representatives until Nov. 10, shortly after Ohio’s Republican-controlled Legislature began its lame-duck session.

According to a lawsuit Cleveland filed Monday in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, it was then that the Ohio House Finance Committee “logrolled” several unrelated amendments into the Senate’s original bill. Logrolling is the political practice of exchanging support or favors for mutual gain, often by trading votes.

The new amendments adopted by the House Finance Committee criminalized bestiality and increased the penalties for cockfighting and other animal fighting; precluded cities from imposing minimum wages higher than the rate set by the state; prohibited cities from placing requirements on private employers with respect to work location, schedules and benefits; and prevented cities from regulating the commercial installation of wireless cellular equipment in public spaces.

The amended bill, renamed Substitute Senate Bill 331, was then passed by the Ohio House, confirmed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on Dec. 19. It takes effect Tuesday.

Cleveland’s lawsuit argues first and foremost that the unrelated amendments added onto SB 331 are a blatant violation of Section 15, Article II of the Ohio Constitution, which expressly provides that, “No bill shall contain more than one subject.”

Cleveland’s complaint also takes particular issue with the provisions on the installation of wireless cellular equipment, claiming the law could allow any number of commercial wireless companies to place wireless cell equipment on city sidewalks, streets, traffic signals, light poles and street signs.

“The effect of the Micro Wireless Facility Provisions in Substitute S.B. No. 331 is to unconstitutionally preempt, eliminate or severely restrict the ability of the City and other municipalities to effectively govern, manage, and control both the use of municipally owned property and the access to public rights of way by public utilities,” the lawsuit states. “It is imperative that municipalities be able to manage, regulate, and administer the use of municipally owned property and otherwise determine when and where utility providers install their small cell and wireless facilities.”

The city also says SB 331 violates Ohio’s home-rule provision, which gives municipalities more power and flexibility to create laws where no state law applies.

“The City’s exercise of its local self-government authority in this regard is necessary to minimize street closures, disruptions to the rights of way, and the potential damage to streets and other municipal property, while also enabling the City to effectively keep track of wireless companies that have installed and maintain wireless facilities equipment, and ensuring control of the public right of way where such installation has taken place,” the complaint says.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a press release that more than 80 Ohio municipalities will file separate suits to challenge the constitutionality of SB 331. Indeed, 20 northeast Ohio cities and municipalities jointly filed a similar lawsuit against the state Friday in Summit County.

“Mayor Jackson strongly opposes this amendment as it raises serious questions concerning local government rights, constitutional authority, and control of City property,” Cleveland says.

Anthony Togliatti, mayor of the Cleveland suburb Independence, joined Jackson at a press conference Monday.

“There are numerous reasons we are opposing this bill,” Mayor Togliatti said. “[We are opposing] the unconstitutionality of it, the complete loss of home rule and loss of control of structures erected in our city’s rights of way.”

Cleveland is seeking a declaration that the law violates the single-subject rule and the home-rule powers established in the Ohio Constitution. It also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the state from enforcing the law’s amendments.

The city is represented by in-house counsel Gary Singletary and Christopher Heltzel.

A spokesperson for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said his office is “reviewing the pleadings and will respond accordingly.”





Seventeen Ohio Cities File Lawsuit To Stop 5G Cell Towers Everywhere

MARCH 21, 2017

By Catherine J. Frompovich

Hats off and plaudits to the mayors and managers of the following Ohio cities: Bexley, Canal Winchester, Columbus, Dublin, Delaware, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, New Albany, Pickerington, Powell, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall and Worthington for the legal actions they took to stop “wireless companies to place facilities, including towers up to 50 feet high and equipment of 28 cubic feet (the size of a small refrigerator), in the local public right-of-way.” [1]   Those towers and equipment would roll out and implement 5G Wi-Fi, which allegedly was unlawfully signed into Ohio law December 19, 2016 – as alleged in the lawsuit – to become effective March 21, 2017!

Seems like Ohio, its governor and SB331 went the exact way Pennsylvania’s governor and HB2200/Act 129 did in rolling out AMI Smart Meters, i.e., ramrod illegal implementation by state agencies. Why are both those laws illegal?





Central Ohio cities sue over state law on wireless antennas

By Alissa Widman Neese
The Columbus Dispatch

Mar 20, 2017

A hearing will be held March 30 in Summit County Common Pleas Court on a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction sought by 20 northeast Ohio cities and villages who want to stop a new state wireless equipment law that goes into effect today.

A similar lawsuit against the new law was filed Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court by 50 more cities and villages from around the state, including 14 in central Ohio.

Senate Bill 331, approved by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Gov. John Kasich last year, allows wireless service providers to attach “micro-wireless” equipment —such as antennas and boxes — to traffic lights, utility poles, street signs and other structures in public right-of-ways without consent or regulation from local governments. Antennas must measure less than six cubic feet and boxes less than 28 cubic feet, or about the size of a refrigerator, according to the new state law.

The law also allows cellphone providers to build new signal towers up to 50 feet high in the public right-of-way.

No action is imminent on the Franklin County case as officials wait to see what happens in Summit County court. At a hearing Monday in Akron, Magistrate Kandi S. O’Connor ordered the state to submit a written brief in response to that lawsuit by Friday. The plaintiffs will then have until March 28 to file their written response before verbal arguments will be heard at 9 a.m. March 30.

The two lawsuits contend that the unilateral rights granted wireless providers under the state’s law are unconstitutional violations of home-rule authority under the Ohio Constitution. In addition to aesthetic concerns of unregulated placement of such equipment, city and village officials say they’re worried the lack of regulation could cause safety problems if equipment isn’t installed properly.

“Senate Bill 331 effectively prohibits cities from regulating the placement of wireless facilities in our communities,” said Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler, chair of the Central Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, which spearheaded the legal action in Franklin County court. The law, he said, gives utilities “the kind of rights no utility has ever had or should ever get.”

The state law only impacts city and villages. It doesn’t apply to counties or townships, which the lawsuits contend also violate the Ohio Constitution’s uniformity clause.

In addition to those concerns, the lawsuits allege Senate Bill 331 violates the state Constitution’s single-subject rule, which says “no bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title.”

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), was introduced in May 2016 as a law intended to override local ordinances that restricted how pet stores can acquire dogs they sell. It was often called the “Petland bill” because the national pet store chain pushed for its passage after Grove City and Toledo passed restrictive local laws.

But by the time Kasich signed Senate Bill 331 into law last December, it included several late amendments covering a hodgepodge of topics, such as bestiality, cockfighting and minimum wage.

The controversial “micro wireless facilities” amendment was added during the Senate’s lame-duck session, held after the next General Assembly had already been elected. There were no public hearings on the wireless matter, which city and village officials criticized for a lack of transparency.

AT&T lobbied for the wireless provider provisions in Ohio, but other providers, such as Sprint and Verizon, have campaigned for similar rules in other states.

The equipment described in the bill, also called “small-cell” technology, is critical for wireless providers to maintain speedy cellphone coverage in densely populated areas and successfully rolling out next-generation 5G coverage, Verizon spokesman Paul Vasington said.

“They’re already deployed in many cities around the country and generally you don’t notice them, because they’re unobtrusive and fit in with existing infrastructure,” Vasington said.

Small-cell technology helps meet demands for 4G service without requiring additional macrocell or large cellphone towers, which typically measure about 150 feet, he said. Existing laws in most Ohio cities only address those larger towers.

An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 small cells will be deployed nationwide by 2018 to improve service and as many as 800,000 by 2026, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Vasington and AT&T spokeswoman Nicole Walker declined comment on Monday’s lawsuit.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which represents the General Assembly and the governor in the matter, provided a written statement in response to the legal actions:

“We understand that portions of a bill passed by the Ohio General Assembly have been challenged in several courts. We are reviewing the pleadings and will respond accordingly.”

City officials emphasized they’re not against bringing new technology into their municipalities. Many cities listed as plaintiffs in the suit already have small-cell equipment installed safely and responsibly within their boundaries, officials said.

But as it’s written, Senate Bill 331 doesn’t allow for compromise or oversight, creating a “wild west” scenario, New Albany City Manager Joe Stefanov said.

For example, nothing in the law prevents providers from constructing 50-foot cellphone towers in the area between streets and sidewalks in residential areas.

“We want to maintain a balance between making the technology available and protecting the aesthetic qualities that take a lot of time, effort and money to create within our communities,” Stefanov said.

The 14 central Ohio cities listed as participants in the Franklin County lawsuit are: Bexley, Columbus, Dublin, Delaware, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Hilliard, Lancaster, New Albany, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall and Worthington.

It’s expected more lawsuits on the subject will be filed statewide, said Greg Dunn, an attorney with Ice Miller LLP, a Columbus law firm representing central Ohio cities in the lawsuit. Former Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman is a partner and member of Ice Miller’s Public Affairs and Goverment Law, Internet of Things Group, and serves as the law firm’s director of business and government strategies.

In 1997, the cities of Dublin and Upper Arlington sued the state on a similar issue involving public utilities, home rule and the Ohio Constutition’s single-subject rule and were successful.