Wireless Zoning and Permit Requests








Steel in the Air helps local governments and public entities to make best-practice choices regarding any and all aspects of telecom lease negotiations. We serve school systems and municipal governments across the nation, and are happy to provide references. In the meantime, you can visit our testimonials.

Some of our clients have expressed the belief that the cell tower industry has climaxed; in fact, the opposite is true. Consumer demand for data-driven services is still on the rise and likely to increase for near future. We believe that cell tower saturation is still not half what will be necessary to meet current demand for services.

Consumer demand drives the need for more cell towers.

  1. The number of cell towers climbed from 283,385 to 301,779 in 2012 and is expected to increase by an even larger percentage in 2013.
  2. Many carriers are adding additional sites in urban areas to provide infill areas of weak coverage. Some experts believe that only 35% of the necessary sites have been built.
  3. New data services require sites to be closer together to provide ubiquitous coverage. Since new areas will need new coverage, we are seeing anecdotal evidence that a rewrite of currently antiquated ordinances will be necessary.

municipal technical review of cell tower zoning applications

It’s no wonder so many municipalities are experiencing an onslaught of zoning applications or permit request for new cell sites. The carriers need to add sites in previously unavailable areas to provide consistent coverage, specifically in denser residential areas where opposition from community members will be high.

These applications will be based on your current cell tower zoning code requirements, which, more than likely, will require a determination of the technical adequacy of the application.

  • Does the carrier sufficiently demonstrate “need?”
  • Has the carrier evaluated all possible alternatives?

The answers to these questions can’t be determined simply by looking at your zoning map and asking the carrier to indicate where they are reviewing existing sites. In most cases, the cell site maps maintained by the municipality are woefully inaccurate. If you can’t determine where existing infrastructure is, how can you know if the proposed structures are needed? How can the average city planner or board member understand if the carrier has shown sufficient radio frequency evidence of need for a new site if they have no formal training in radio frequency propagation?

Cell Tower Zoning Experts

Steel in the Air, Inc. has teamed up with Cityscape Consultants to offer municipalities an engineering review of proposed cell sites. This review consists of cell tower and cell site location data, that can be used for zoning applications. Cityscape’s president, Rick Edwards, is an expert in radio frequency propagation and municipal regulatory issues. He’s authored countless wireless facility ordinances and is widely renowned and highly regarded.

Often times, the fee for these reviews can be transferred to the carrier making the application. Together with Cityscape Consultants, we can answer you and your constituents’ questions. We can also help shield you from litigation and appeals by establishing a sufficient record that meets the requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and its subsequent defining case law.

Contact us for more details.

Insider Tips

Cell Site leases are valued based upon a number of factors, but at the end of the day it’s the “uniqueness” factor that has the most weight. However, the uniqueness of a given property is based on more than just the elevation of the land.

Wireless carriers build cell towers and cell sites to meet specific and immediate demand – not in anticipation of future growth.

Consumer demand for higher speeds brought on by robust and rising Smartphone and tablet usage, and the pervasive 4G technology migration, will drive future demand for cell site leasing. The number of cell sites in the U.S. alone is expected to surpass 400,000 by 2015.