State Capitol

State Capitol

The Iowa House has endorsed “uniform state rules” to govern how local governments manage applications for cell phone tower sites. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, said some local governments have been “second-guessing business decisions” about where the towers should be placed.

“The overall goal of the bill is to facilitate the construction of this important infrastructure so that we can…make sure that every Iowan out there has the opportunity for all of the services,” Baltimore said.

“Wireless” service providers complain some cities and counties are unnecessarily delaying decisions on requested tower sites or charging exorbitant leasing fees for cell phone towers sites on public property. The bill would forbid cities and counties from requiring cell phone companies to show there is growing customer demand in the area or require the company to take down existing towers before adding more.

“This has been a bill that has been a long time coming and has been the collaborative work of many,” Baltimore said. “…I’m sure there are some people that aren’t overly thrilled, but I think by the same token we have come a long ways from where we started two years ago.”

Representative, a Democrat from Coralville, responded: “This bill is a long time coming, but it’s not quite there.”

Jacoby argued the bill goes too far in limiting the authority of local governments to make decisions about cell phone tower sites. Representative Cindy Winckler, a Democrat from Davenport agreed.

“I’m concerned that the local governments who have a responsibility to their citizens lose their voice with this particular bill,” Winckler said.

The bill passed the House on a 59-39 vote and it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

If the measure becomes law, cities and counties would have 150 days to make a decision about a cell phone tower application. The application would be automatically approved the city or county fails to act within that timeframe.