New Orleans Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance

Printed: 9/21/2023 5:03:32 PM

20.3.JJJ Wireless Telecommunications Antenna, Facility, and Tower

20.3.JJJ.1 Purpose   

The following standards for wireless telecommunications antennas, facilities and towers are intended to:

a.  Ensure public safety and welfare.

b.  Ensure access to reliable wireless telecommunications services throughout the City.

c.  Encourage the use of existing towers and other structures for the co-location of wireless telecommunications antenna.

d.  Encourage the location of towers, to the extent possible, in areas where the adverse impact on the City will be minimal and preferably in non-residential, as opposed to residential, districts.

e.  Minimize the potential adverse effects associated with the construction of wireless telecommunications towers through the implementation of reasonable design, landscape, and construction practices.

20.3.JJJ.2 Application Requirements   

Where a conditional use is required by this Ordinance for the construction or placement of wireless telecommunications towers or antennas, in addition to the requirements for a conditional use, said applications shall include the following items, unless waived by the Executive Director of the City Planning Commission:

a.  A development plan showing:

i.  The location, size, screening, and design of all structures, including fences.

ii.  The location and size of all outdoor equipment.

iii.  All landscaping and screening.

b.  A maintenance plan designed to ensure long-term, continuous maintenance to a reasonably prudent standard, including maintenance of landscaping, keeping the area free from debris and litter, and immediate removal of any graffiti.

c.  The nature and extent of the provider/applicant’s ownership, servitude, or lease interest in the property, building or structure upon which the antenna, facility or tower is proposed for placement, construction or modification.

d.  If the proposal is for a new wireless telecommunications tower, then a map showing the applicant’s search ring shall be provided and justification for why co-location is not feasible in order to demonstrate the need for a new tower.

e. Certification by a licensed and registered professional engineer regarding the manner in which the proposed structure will fail. The certification may be utilized, along with other criteria such as applicable regulations for the district in question, in determining if additional setback should be required for the structure and other facilities.

20.3.JJJ.3 Setbacks   

a.  A wireless telecommunications tower shall be set back from all property lines by the greater of (i) the underlying setback requirements of the zoning district in which it is located, and (ii) the following setbacks: front yard – 25 feet; side and rear yards – 8 feet.  Provided, however, any wireless telecommunications tower that is located less than a distance equal to 100 percent of its height from a residential district line shall also be required to be set back from such residential district line by the height of the telecommunications tower.

b.  The City may reduce the required setback as part of the conditional use approval if the City shall find that the tower is less visible as a result and that safety is not compromised. Such reduction in the setback requires submission of a written instrument signed by all adjoining property owners, and duly notarized, agreeing to such modification. In all cases, the wireless telecommunications tower shall meet the underlying setback requirements of the zoning district in which it is located.

c.  All wireless telecommunications facilities shall be set back from all property lines in accordance with the minimum setback requirements in the zoning district.

20.3.JJJ.4 Height   

The maximum height of a wireless telecommunications tower allowed as a permitted use, including all attachments (antennas, lightning rods, arrays, etc.), measured from grade to the highest point of the tower is as follows:

Table 20-4: Permitted Height for Wireless Telecommunications Antenna, Facility, and Towers

ZONING DISTRICT

HEIGHT

LI, HI, MI, BIP

125’

All other zoning districts

65’

The conditional use or site plan and design review application for approval of a wireless telecommunications tower shall demonstrate that the tower does not exceed the minimum height requirement necessary to function satisfactorily, which may be less than the sixty-five (65) foot maximum permitted here. As part of the conditional use approval, a tower may exceed the maximum height if the City finds that the exception is necessary for functionality or co-location purposes. In any case, the tower shall not exceed the height necessary to function satisfactorily.

20.3.JJJ.5 Lighting and Marking   

a.  Wireless telecommunications antennas and towers shall not be lit or marked unless required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). If lighting is required, strobe lighting is prohibited unless no alternative is available.

b.  Wireless telecommunications facilities are permitted to install security lighting, which shall be down-shielded and contained within the boundaries of the site.

20.3.JJJ.6 Landscape and Security   

20.3.JJJ.6.a Fencing   

i.  Wireless telecommunication towers shall be enclosed by a solid fence a minimum of six (6) feet in height, and constructed to prevent unauthorized personnel from climbing the tower.

ii.  Chain link fencing may be placed behind the solid fence so long as the chain link fencing cannot be seen from the public right-of-way.

iii.  All gates and access points shall be locked.

20.3.JJJ.6.b Landscape   

Landscape shall be installed outside the fencing in accordance with the following:

i.  One (1) shade tree for every twenty (20) feet of fence length, not including gates or other fence openings.

ii.  One (1) shrub for every three (3) feet of fence length, not including gates or other fence openings.

iii.  The landscape requirements may be grouped to maintain openings around gates or other access points.

20.3.JJJ.6.c Security   

i.  All wireless telecommunication towers, facilities, and antennas shall be designed with sufficient security measures to reasonably prevent unauthorized entry.

ii.  All wireless telecommunication towers shall be designed to preclude unauthorized climbing. Anti-climbing measures shall address the area from the base of the tower to twelve (12) feet above the base.

iii.  Any private access roads to a wireless telecommunication tower or facility shall be gated for security purposes.

iv.  Signs shall be mounted on the fenced enclosure and adjacent to any access points prohibiting entry without authorization, warning of danger from electrical equipment and unauthorized climbing of the tower. Signs shall also include the owner of the tower and a contact number in case of emergency. Such signs are limited to six (6) square feet in area. No other information may be part of such signs.

20.3.JJJ.6.d Alternate Designs for Base Flood Elevation Considerations   

Where a wireless telecommunications tower base and/or facility shall be elevated above four (4) feet because of base flood elevation (BFE), an alternate fencing and landscape design shall be proposed to take into account the additional height from the BFE. This alternate design shall be approved by the Executive Director of the City Planning Commission.

20.3.JJJ.7 Additional Standards for Wireless Telecommunications Antennas   

a.  Wireless telecommunications antennas are a conditional use in all districts, except where they are considered a permitted use in accordance with Subsections 10 and 12.

b.  Wireless telecommunications antennas do not include satellite dish antennas, which are regulated separately by this Ordinance.

c.  Antennas shall be of a color that is identical or similar to the color of the supporting structure to make the antenna visually unobtrusive.

20.3.JJJ.8 Additional Standards for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities   

a. Wireless telecommunications facilities are a permitted or conditional use in all districts with such determination based on whether the wireless telecommunications tower and wireless telecommunications antennas with which they are associated are permitted or conditional.

b.  Wireless telecommunications facilities do not include aboveground utility structures and temporary telecommunications cells on wheels (COW), which are regulated separately by this Ordinance.

c.  All wireless telecommunications facilities shall be completely enclosed in an equipment shelter or cabinet, if they are outdoors. If the wireless telecommunications facilities are visible from outside of the fence required to surround all wireless telecommunications towers, the wireless telecommunications facilities shall meet the building design standards and setback requirements of the zoning district.

d.  Any cabinets or shelters may house only equipment and supplies for operation of the wireless telecommunication tower. Any equipment not used in direct support of such operation shall not be stored on the site. The facility shall be un-staffed.

20.3.JJJ.9 Additional Standards for Wireless Telecommunications Towers   

a.   Wireless telecommunications towers exceeding sixty-five feet (65’) shall be designed to accommodate at least three (3) telecommunications providers. The area surrounding such a tower shall be of a sufficient size to accommodate accompanying wireless telecommunications facilities for at least three (3) telecommunications providers.

b.  Unless otherwise required by the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration or the City, towers shall have a galvanized silver or gray finish.

c.  As part of the conditional use approval, the City may require the applicant to reserve a portion of the tower for use by the local, state, or federal government for a governmental function provided that adequate compensation is paid.

d.  All telecommunication towers shall have back-up power systems with sufficient power to operate for at least  three (3) days following a massive power outage. Towers shall be equipped with systems that automatically engage during such power failures. Back-up generators and any necessary fuel supplies shall be stored in a secure structure to prevent unauthorized access, damage and theft and to protect from weather damage.

e.  To minimize the adverse visual impact of wireless telecommunications towers, where such towers are permitted only as conditional uses, they will be permitted in the in the following order of preference for locating new facilities. If lower priority locations are requested, the applicant may be required to provide engineering data certified by the appropriate Louisiana licensed professional, or other information the City deems necessary, that the use of a higher priority location is not technically, or otherwise feasible, and that the requested location is a matter of engineering necessity.

i. First Priority

First priority sites are the C-3, EC, MC, MS, LI, HI, MI, and BIP Districts. In addition, co-location of antennas in any district where there is an existing wireless telecommunications tower is considered a first priority site.

ii.  Second Priority

Second priority sites are the OS-R, NA, ESD, MU-1, MU-2, LS, and C-2 Districts.

iii. Third Priority

Third priority sites are any districts not cited as a first or second priority.

20.3.JJJ.10 Minor Modifications and Stealth Design for Wireless Telecommunications Antennas   

Stealth design for wireless antennas is encouraged and is considered a permitted use in all districts. All development plans shall include all information required by this section. In addition to the standards of this section for wireless telecommunications antennas, stealth design shall comply with the following regulations:

a. Modifications that involve the removal or replacement of equipment, to an existing Wireless Telecommunications Antenna, Facility or Tower, which does not substantially change the physical dimension of the tower or facility, are permitted in all districts.

b.  To qualify as a stealth design, wireless telecommunications antennas shall be enclosed, camouflaged, screened, or reasonably obscured from public view.

c.  Antennas shall be located on or in structures already permitted within zoning districts, whether such structures are existing or newly constructed, such as water towers, clock towers, streetlights, penthouses, parapet walls, rooftops, flagpoles, and steeples, and shall be designed to blend in to the structure. Antennas that locate on existing towers are also considered stealth design. However, antennas attached to existing towers shall not exceed  the height of the tower above the maximum allowed.

d.  No antenna mounted on the fa├žade of a structure may increase the overall height of the building by more than one (1) foot.

e.   Antennas may be located on a mast consisting of a frame or pole which is mounted on a roof, or rises above or is otherwise located upon, the top of a building or structure, Mast-mounted antennas shall be located on buildings or other structures where the height of the building or structure is a minimum of forty (40) feet, as measured to the top roof peak or roof deck for a building and to the highest point of the structure if not a building; and the height of the mast shall not exceed twenty-five (25) feet in height as measured from the base to the tip. Masts located upon a building shall be located near the core of the building (to the maximum extent practical based on structural considerations and functionality) to minimize the surrounding ground level views.

f.  All stealth designs shall include a plan for maintenance for the proper operation and appearance of the antenna.

Adopted by Ord. 29126, 8-12-22, ZD016/22

20.3.JJJ.11 Abandonment   

Any wireless telecommunications tower or facility that is not operated for a period of one-hundred eighty (180) consecutive days is considered abandoned. The owner shall remove the tower or facility, and all aboveground equipment and related debris, within one-hundred eighty (180) days of its abandonment. The City may ensure and enforce removal by means of its existing regulatory authority.

20.3.JJJ.12 Nonconformities   

20.3.JJJ.12.a Nonconforming Wireless Telecommunications Antenna or Facilities   

Ordinary maintenance may be performed on nonconforming antenna or facilities. However, if the proposed alteration intensifies a nonconforming characteristic of the antenna or facility, a variance is required.

20.3.JJJ.12.b Nonconforming Wireless Telecommunications Towers   

i.  Ordinary maintenance may be performed on nonconforming towers.

ii.  The substitution, modification, upgrade or removal of antennas on an existing nonconforming tower is permitted, provided that the height and/or nonconformity of the facility is not intensified.