23 Aug 2014
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Alpharetta Opposes State Legislation Limiting Local Control

Legislation making its way through the Georgia General Assembly would limit some zoning controls cities have on cell tower construction and restrict municipal broadband Internet service.

Alpharetta Opposes State Legislation Limiting Local Control

Alpharetta City Council approved two resolutions Monday night that tell the state legislature to keep out of local government's business. The local elected officials want the General Assembly to drop one House bill that removes some zoning controls over cell tower installations, and another House bill that restricts a city's ability to provide municipal broadband Internet service.

Councilman Chris Owens said he had several issues with House Bill 176, which deals with cell towers. The first issue he had was that the legislation was proposed by a retired communications executive who is now a consultant for the industry. The bill also appears to repeat or confuse regulations already set by the FCC, Owens said.

"I'm also not in favor of anything being removed from local control that would impact the economic viability and the visibility and need of our community. I think those decisions are best made right here for our own selves, not arbitrarily by the state in blanket form like House Bill 176 proposes," Owens said.

Milton City Council voted to oppose the legislation last week.

Councilman Mike Kennedy posed a question to City Attorney Sam Thomas regarding the legislation before the vote on the resolution.

"Sam, if this legislation passes, is there anything that would preclude a city from including the names and phone numbers of legislators who supported this legislation being provided to residents who are impacted by that," Kennedy asked.

Thomas said there is nothing that prohibits the city from doing that.

Kennedy said that's something the city might consider doing.

The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution opposing the cell tower legislation.

City Council Opposes Municipal Broadband Ban

The City Council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing House Bill 282, which would ban municipal broadband service if any private company offered the service anywhere within an area in the city.

Councilman Jim Gilvin offered the resolution, saying it was brought to his attention by Councilman Michael Cross.

"Once again I think this is just a state legislator jumping into local business. And I appreciate their concerns, but we do a pretty good job around here, I think. And if residents don't think so, they will be more than happy to let us know," Gilvin said. "I'd appreciate it if they'd just let us handle our government."

Councilman Chris Owens agreed with what Gilvin said and what Cross said in an email.

"This goes not only beyond local control, but also impacts our ability and other communities ability to be masters of our own destiny and influence on development as well as provides services to their constituents, both residential and commercial," Owens said. "If that's something in a community's best interests, who better to make that decision than a community rather than the state on behalf of the community."

Councilman Cross said this issue may never affect Alpharetta, but it's something that will affect rural communities in Georgia.

"It's enough of a struggle to try to attract the jobs to our community that we really need. The idea that we would have our state legislature impose some type of restrictions upon that is a problem for me," Cross said.



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