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Planners eye more stringent regulations

Posted on Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

More stringent regulations for cell towers, solar panels and signs are continuing to be studied by members of the Fayetteville Regional Planning Commission.

In its July meeting last week, planners continued their discussions as they consider making City of Fayetteville ordinances more stringent than those required under state and federal guidelines.

“Cell towers are here to stay,” said Rovena Wade, planning commission chair, referring to a recent controversy relating to a cell tower just off Washington Street. “We need to get regulations in place for any new cell towers that may be proposed … We can’t do anything about what’s already come in [under regulations we currently have].”

One of the suggestions being discussed in regard to cell towers is prohibiting their future construction in residential areas, and outside those areas, requiring the towers to be constructed at least one and one-half the distance of its height from any property line.

Those suggestions came from Alderman Danny Bryant, who was also present for Tuesday’s planning commission meeting. Planners had asked members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for guidance in redrawing city ordinances.

Guidance had also been sought in regard to ordinances relating to solar panels, both large arrays as well as more limited uses.

While various regulations are being considered, officials agree that of primary concern is protecting neighborhoods from panels that might be considered eyesores. Discussion has also centered on safety when it comes to roof-top arrays, which officials say do not fall into the category of serviceable equipment.

“California’s fire code addresses solar panels on roofs from the standpoint of firefighting,” said Jeff Siefert, city planner and building inspector, as officials talked about developing regulations that would prevent panels from becoming a danger to firefighters who might be on roofs fighting a blaze – for example, prohibiting arrays from being built out too close to the edge of rooftops.

Additionally, discussion centered on developing regulations that would prevent solar panel arrays from becoming a hindrance to traffic from the standpoint of visibility.

Siefert along with Wade and Lindsey Galyen, a member of the planning commission, recently attended training in Huntsville, Ala., related to sign ordinances, particularly digital signs.