Here's the situation:
We have a highly restrictive cell tower ordinance--pretty much as strict as current case law allows. For a tower over 120', they must secure a "Special Exception" through our Zoning Board of Adjustment. We've had a pretty good back-and-forth with the cell tower owner (a separate company--not a provider itself) that wants to extend an existing tower from 60' to 190', which has resulted in a lawsuit. While the tower owner has made a number of dumb arguments, one argument seems to have merit with me: approving this tower would "inocculate" a large part of our city against future towers, as the 190' tower would have capacity for 5 co-located antennas. Our ordinance encourages co-location by requiring that any new tower must have capacity for up to 3 co-locations.
Under our ordinance, any new antenna must demonstrate that a facility (other tower) isn't already available with co-location capacity to suit their needs.
My Council is concerned that this appears to create a situation in which someone with a 190' tower would effectively have a monopoly, and we would have no means of assuring that they don't engage in price gouging. My response has been that it is in the tower owner's best interest to get every space used, as the owner does not have a specific interest in any one wireless provider over the other (all their money is green). It is in his business's best interest to get the co-location spaces filled.
So as we move forward with a new special exception application, I'm looking for a way to make everyone comfortable with some assurances. One suggestion I got was that we place a condition on the cell tower height increase that says it cannot be constructed until the tower owner has secured leasing agreements from at least three wireless providers. I figure this would encourage the tower owner to work in good faith with other providers and give the city some confidence that allowing the tower will "inoculate" the city against future towers in the area.
Thoughts from the Throbbing Brain of CyburbiaTM?