FCC’s recent big loss in court proves what residents warned all along: Montgomery County Council can’t trust the FCC’s safety standards from 1996 for wireless radiation to protect our families.

fcc vid

Technology has changed a lot since 1996 when cell towers were away from homes & people. FCC's recent big loss in court proves what residents warned all along: Montgomery County Council can’t trust the FCC's safety standards from 1996 for wireless radiation to protect our families.

Please share on social media.


Mark your calendar! Oct 11 (New date) Rally to Stop Cell Towers 30 Feet From Homes Meet at 11:30 am, Tuesday, Oct. 11th

Mark your calendar! Oct. 11th (new date) Rally to Stop Cell Towers 30 Feet From Homes


Check back on this webpage (https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-22-01) for updates to our Rally plans to stop the proposed ZTA 22-01!

Meet at 11:30 am, Tuesday, Oct. 11th

Steps of the Montgomery County Council building

100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 (see directions)

Please share this event information with your email lists. Suggested subject line: Subject: Urgent Action and Invite! Please attend the Oct 11th Rally to Stop Cell Towers 30 Feet From Homes

Don’t want a cell tower 30 feet from your bedroom window?
(Email Council Now with our Action Network Tool – Takes only a minute!)

The Montgomery County Council is scheduled to vote in October on ZTA 22-01, which will allow utility poles to be transformed into cell towers just 30 feet from homes!

30 FEET!

You will get NO public notice, no public hearing, and no right to appeal, as long as the pole is at least 30 feet away in any residential neighborhood, which includes houses and apartments.

The MoCo Council PHED Committee meets on Monday October 10 – tell them NOT to recommend 22-01 to the full Council! “Click on “Start Writing” on the right-hand side of this page.

Thank you to the over 1,000 residents who wrote letters to the County Council and County Executive opposing 22-01. After receiving your letters, the Council increased the number of slots for residents at the September 13 public hearing from only 6 up to 15 slots.

42 residents signed up to testify against 22-01 (thank you again!), however the Council left 27 of them stranded on the waitlist, barred from speaking. The Council declined to move the hearing to a full nighttime hearing to allow all residents on the waitlist to speak. Watch the video testimony here. Every single resident who signed up to testify or submitted testimony opposed this ZTA. It was unanimous. The only people who testified in favor were 2 lobbyists and the chairman of the County Planning Board, an employee selected by the County Council.

ACTION you can take right now: Click START WRITING on the right-hand side of this page do use our 1-minute tool to tell the Council to:

1) Remove 22-01 from the PHED Committee agenda on October 10 and cancel all action on ZTA 22-01 this term.

2) Meet with members of our coalition who have requested meetings with multiple Council members regarding ZTA 22-01.

A number of Councilmembers have declined to speak with constituents and members of our coalition regarding 22-01. We hope Councilmembers will recall that they are elected to represent their constituents, not to rubber-stamp bills for lobbyists.We are cc:ing these emails to all candidates for County Council and County Executive in the upcoming November election. We encourage all candidates to urge the outgoing, lame-duck Council not to take any further action on this issue and allow the incoming Council to consider changes to the zoning code and wireless regulations.

It’s time to show the Council that we cannot be ignored: Let’s rally together against the bad idea of cell towers just 30 feet from bedroom windows. Bring signs and stand with us, on the steps of the County Council, 11:30 AM on Tuesday, October 11th!

Background on ZTA 22-01

Last year, the County Council adopted ZTA 19-07, a zoning law pushed through for the wireless industry after six years of residents’ intense objections. Despite finally passing this ZTA, the lead sponsor of 19-07 and 22-01 is claiming that the language of last year’s bill was “not exactly as intended” and needs further correction. He wants to pass yet another ZTA to make it even easier for the wireless industry to install thousands of antennas just 30 feet from homes, on existing utility or light poles.

30 feet is not the magic number!

There is no FCC requirement, no plausible legal justification, for the 30-foot cell antenna setback of ZTA 22-01 and council’s narratives about residential wireless zoning requirements cannot be squared with what the FCC stated to the Supreme Court in response to City of Portland et al. v. the FCC in June 2021. It is yet another gratuitous handout to the wireless industry.

ZTA 22-01 and 19-07 do not provide for any prior notice to residents, or any right of hearing or appeal, for cell towers 30 or more feet from homes. Utility poles contemplated under 22-01 have NO HEIGHT LIMIT.

The Council’s own staff, in its Racial Equity and Social Justice impact statement on ZTA 22-01, did not find that 22-01 would have a positive net impact on racial equity or social justice in the County. And that was after relying on a “report” that was “generously” supported by T-Mobile. At the same time, Council staff noted that “if the reduced set back requirements for small cell towers authorized under ZTA 22-01 results in negative health outcomes, this in turn could widen health disparities by race and ethnicity.” The statement did not even consider the social justice impacts of close proximity towers on vulnerable populations. Read residents’ RESJ analysis and the staff’s reply.

Want To Do More?

Promote the rally! Share this event information with your email lists and share online! Facebook/Twitter @MoCoCoalition

Submit written testimony! Send personal emails to the council, call their offices, leave voicemails, tweet at them publicly, and request one-on-one meetings.

SHARE this link! Tell your friends, post on social media! https://actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-22-01

When: Tuesday October 11th 11:30 to 1:30pm
Where: Steps of the County Council Building
100 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD
Hope to see you there!
Facebook/Twitter @MoCoCoalition

Thrive Montgomery 2050 accelerates deployment of 5G –– Tell the Council to Hit Pause –– and Add Equity

We are sharing this August 16th article and Action Alert by Montgomery Countryside Alliance (mocoalliance.org)

Thrive 2050: What it Says, What it Will Do, and Why We Have to Hit Pause

OF NOTE related to the proliferation of close-proximity small cells from that article, please find this linked PDF: Thrive’s Sweeping Changes (PDF)

“Thrive’s Proposed Policies Would Bring Sweeping Changes to Montgomery County

Thrive’s proposed policies and those in its companion documents including Attainable Housing Strategies, would bring sweeping changes to Montgomery County to the detriment of a healthy environment and affordable housing for all.

Here’s a partial list of Thrive’s sweeping changes. Thrive would:

“…Accelerate deployment of high-frequency networks in every neighborhoodexposing residents to harmful levels of 5G radiofrequency radiation.
Source: PHED draft of Thrive Montgomery 2050, October 2021, pages 50 – 51.  (Thrive 2050 Draft PDF: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/Resources/Files/2021/ PHED-CommitteeDraftThrive2050.pdf)”

Also from the PHED draft (PHED-CommitteeDraftThrive2050.pdf):

    • p48 — . . . the importance of virtual connections, including the deployment of high-speed wireless networks and fiber optic cable, continues to grow.
    • p50 — Support teleworking by accelerating deployment of information and communications technology and making working from home easier by facilitating Complete Communities. (Ec, Env)
    • p51 — Another essential building block of economic competitiveness is information and communications technology and telecommunications networks. Montgomery County should continue to prioritize advancing new technologies and making deployment of high-speed wireless networks and fiber optic cable – or other new communication systems – an important part of infrastructure planning.

Besides accelerating the deployment of high-frequency networks in every neighborhood, Thrive, if enacted, would undermine our existing Smart-Growth General Plan—Thwarting our ability to repair racial and social Injustice and equity.

Thrive Fails:

→ to stop sprawl
→ to advance Racial Equity and Social Justice in land use and transportation
→ to provide a path to success in meeting the need for affordable housing
→ to protect renters from rent increases and displacement
→ to protect our urban trees and forests
→ to protect our watersheds and clean drinking water supplies from pollution
→ to protect historic sites and structures
→ to protect our Agricultural Reserve so we can grow its capacity for food production

Read the entire MC Alliance article: Thrive 2050: What it Says, What it Will Do, and Why We Have to Hit Pause

Election Alert: Electronic touchscreen ballots divide candidate choices up via second screens not available unless clicked

A problem has already been reported with voting on the touchscreen for (some) races with multiple candidates in that the voter has to view two screens to see all of the names of candidates running for that position. When there’s a split screen, make sure to click again to see the second screen. Many of the candidates themselves are unaware of these screen issues.

David Lublin of Seventh State has also alerted that the electronic ballot divides the candidates on two pages –– and suggested one way to address these biases is to randomize candidate order. In general, ballot order can shape outcomes. Candidates with names ending in A-L do better, on average, than candidates with names ending in M-Z for this reason. In polling, respondents are most likely to give the first or last choice as their answer.

There was a virtual/Zoom meeting of the Montgomery County Election Board which took place starting at 2:30 p.m. yesterday, Monday, July 11th. Much of the meeting focused on the issue of the touchscreens -– as well as the taking of public (and a candidate’s) testimony regarding the experienced screen viewing confusion. An immediate fix to the software was suggested, but software resolution seems unlikely in time for the rest of early voting or even by election day next Tuesday, July 19th. The Board did acknowledge that this is a serious problem, and meanwhile, promised to use social media and otherwise to get the word out to the public. Election judges will also be immediately educated to better inform voters of the problem when they come in to vote.

Some early voters have strongly advised that it’s best to just request a paper ballot to prevent any confusion about ALL of your voting choices.

URGENT: Act Now to Give the Public a Voice in Licensing of Wireless Facilities on Poles

The County recently released a draft Pole Attachment License Agreement (PLA) that would provide authorization for companies to attach wireless facilities on or in existing or replacement County-owned streetlight poles. Because a licensee can request authorization to attach to any streetlight pole, the PLA poses significant impacts for residents and County at-large. The PLA was released on the Transmission Facilities Coordination Group (TFCG) web page with little or no public notice and only three weeks for public comments, which are due Monday, April 25! The public was allowed only 3,000 characters to comment and could not include any links. The lack of notice and the short time-frame for comments are inadequate and inconsistent with County Executive Elrich’s guiding principles.

Please write to County Executive Elrich and TFCG chair Marjorie Williams and urge them to provide more time for public comments, as well as meaningful notice, public outreach, and an atmosphere that sincerely encourages substantive public comments! Please also submit your comments on the TFCG link.

MCPS Students’ Personal Data Is Used for Race-based Profiling & Profits

Dear Parents/Guardians/Students,

5 years ago, local parents discovered something fishy about Naviance, the online college and career readiness platform MCPS kids use starting in 6th grade: Naviance profiles kids using their personal information (yours, too) and sells it. We brought this to the attention of MCPS. Repeatedly. Meeting after meeting, nothing happened.

Now the nation knows, thanks to a 1/22/22 investigative report in The Markup.

Schools in Europe, where privacy laws are much stricter, replaced Naviance (and its parent company, Powerschool — the engine behind MyMCPS). Our kids deserve that privacy, also.

Please sign this petition to show your concern.

Help end the ‘data farming’ and racial profiling of our children. Share with parents and students!

Wireless Safety Standards Should Protect People and Wildlife – Take Action – Join EHT’s Campaign

U.S. safety limits for wireless radiation have not been reviewed for over 25 years. In August, a landmark federal court ruled that the FCC did not adequately review all the evidence when the FCC refused to update its 1996 wireless radiation exposure limits. The court ruling states the FCC did not respond to research indicating numerous harmful effects from long term exposures, especially for children. Furthermore the FCC was found to have “completely failed” to respond to science showing harm to the environment — our trees, birds and pollinators.

Leading U.S scientists have written to President Biden and U.S. Congress calling on them to take immediate action to ensure science-based protections for the public and the environment.

Join EHT’s letter writing campaign calling on our elected leaders to support the scientists and to take the following actions after this landmark court won:

  • A comprehensive research and policy review by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
  • An environmental impact review for 5G and 4G deployment which includes not only effects from increased radiation but also climate impacts from increased energy use of the new networks and devices.
  • A halt to 5G and wireless densification until the development of science-based wireless radiation safety limits for human, wildlife, and environmental exposures by U.S. health and environmental agencies that protect against biological effects.
  • A congressional hearing to investigate how this issue has been handled for the last two decades by federal agencies and to ensure policymakers are aware of the latest science and policy recommendations.
  • A federal action plan which includes monitoring and public posting of environmental exposures; ensuring post-market surveillance for health effects; enacting policies to reduce public exposures; and educating consumers about how they can personally reduce their exposure.

America needs to invest in a safe technology infrastructure instead of racing into 5G. Our government health agencies can and should develop safety limits for wireless based on the latest research. Educating our elected officials about this ruling and demanding federal accountability depends on us.

Act Now! Our letter writing campaign makes it easy.

Simply enter your information to send a letter to your representatives to encourage them to take action to protect the public and the environment.


2021 Letter to President Biden and Congress

Ruling in EHT et al v FCC by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

New Hampshire State Commission Final Report of the 5G Health and Environmental Effects

Factsheet on August Court Ruling to share with elected officials

Read more science at ehtrust.org

An Unsupported Rationale: The So-Called Legal Case for Montgomery County’s ZTA 19-07 Falls Apart

July 12, 2021

Peter L. Kahn, J.D., Ph.D.
Montgomery County Resident


The County Council appears poised to adopt ZTA 19-07 in part because some members believe that doing so is legally required. That is simply not the case.

Give the Community a Voice: Support A Stakeholder Advisory Group.


One basis for believing this is the FCC’s Small Cell Orders of 2018, which proposes a “material inhibition” standard for the courts to use in evaluating claims under Section 332 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 — in other words, does a denial of a permit for a cell antenna “materially inhibit” the placement or construction of wireless cell facilities. Most denials of permits will materially inhibit their placement, and thus this standard strongly favors the interests of telecom companies. However, literally no federal court has adopted this standard for cases under Section 332, and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has made it clear that the FCC has no authority to change the federal courts’ interpretations of federal law. The standard that has always been used, and continues to be used, by the Courts of Appeals across the country is the “effective prohibition” standard. It asks, does this denial of permit effectively prohibit the provision of cell service? This is a much tougher standard for telecoms to meet, especially when cell service is already abundantly available from multiple carriers. But the “effective prohibition” standard continues to be applied by all the Courts of Appeals for such cases, and no court anywhere has abandoned that standard in favor of the FCC’s preferred “material inhibition” standard for cases under Section 332.

The other basis offered for believing that ZTA 19-07 is legally necessary is the recent case City of Portland v. FCC. In that case, the Ninth Circuit looked at proposed regulations arising under a completely different section of the Telecommunications Act, that is, Section 253. The court in that case applied a “material inhibition” standard, just as it always has in cases arising under Section 253. One might be forgiven for confusing the Section 253 “material inhibition” standard, with the FCC’s proposed “material inhibition” standard for Section 332, but in fact they have different origins. City of Portland did not deal with Section 332, and clearly did not adopt a “material inhibition” standard for Section 332 cases. The “effective prohibition” standard for cases under Section 332 remains in effect in every federal circuit, including the Ninth Circuit.

Section 332 of the Act specifically deals with the “placement, construction, or modification,” of personal wireless facilities — in other words, the very subject matter that the proposed ZTA 19-07 deals with. Any legal claims that might be prevented by the adoption of 19-07 would (in the absence of 19-07) be evaluated by the courts under the legal standard that has always been applied to Section 332 — in other words, the “effective prohibition” standard — because those claims would arise under Section 332, dealing with “placement, construction, or modification” of cell facilities. The FCC’s Small Cell Orders did not change that. The City of Portland case did not change that. Under every federal Court of Appeals in the country, cases dealing with “placement, construction, or modification” of cell facilities will be examined under Section 332 under an unchanged “effective prohibition” standard.

In Montgomery County, a telecom asking for review under Section 332’s “effective prohibition” standard is likely to lose. Our County already has excellent cell service. Just look at the coverage maps published on their websites by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. It will be challenging for any permit applicant to claim seriously that our County has “effectively prohibited” cell service. In truth, we are in full compliance with federal law, and any legal claims against Montgomery County’s local governments will be very difficult for the telecom applicant to win.

Indeed, adopting ZTA 19-07 would itself be a massive change in the standards for cell placement — it would take away virtually all local control, and grant to any telecom the right to use any piece of public property it wishes. This would constitute a massive give-away of epic proportions to the telecom industry, and would be a policy and legal mistake of the first order.

Read the full PDF in the viewer below or download here.


Breaking News & Action Alert: County Executive Calls For Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Working Group For Cell Towers Siting in Residential Areas

ScreenShot Marc Elrich memo_re Cell Tower Bill ZTA 1907

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Download [216.39 KB]

“My staff and I have talked with many residents and industry representatives, and we have found them to be knowledgeable and willing to help improve the process. I would like to propose that we convene a working group comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders, including industry, residents, municipalities and homeowner/tenant associations and/or non-profit organizations. Staff support would be provided by Executive and Council staff. The group would have a limited time – perhaps 75 -90 days – to present written recommendations. I believe such a group would allow opportunity for a more complete discussion of these issues.” 

“Regarding concerns about ZTA 19-07, I have the following concerns and comments:

  1. The ZTA does not set any proposed minimum setback from a building; it is a limited use  process up to 30 feet from the building and then it is a “modified conditional use” process  for less than 30 feet setback.”

Hats off to Marc Elrich, Montgomery County Executive, for for actually wanting to engage ALL stakeholders on these complex and important issues!

Call and E-mail  ALL Councilmembers Now and Tell Them You Support Marc Elrich’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Working Group For Cell Towers Siting in Residential Areas. You may also send an e-mail letter using our Action Network link. It only takes a minute!

phone * e-mail * tweet

Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz (ZTA 19-07 co-sponsor) 240-777-7959

Councilmember Andrew Friedson 240-777-7828
Councilmember.Friedson@ montgomerycountymd.gov

Councilmember Evan Glass 240-777-7966

Tom Hucker (Council President) 240-777-7960

Councilmember Will Jawando 240-777-7811

Councilmember Sidney Katz 240-777-7906

Councilmember Nancy Navarro 240-777-7968

Councilmember Craig Rice (ZTA 19-07 co-sponsor) 240-777-7955

Councilmember Hans Riemer (ZTA 19-07 Lead Sponsor) 240-777-7964

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich 240-777-2500

Research Indicates that Trees are Harmed by Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation: Tell MoCo Leaders to Protect Trees in Our Neighborhoods!

RF Radiation Likely Harms Trees — Take Action to Protect Trees Now!

The dense network of small-cell towers on poles in front of our homes that proposed County ZTA 19-07 promotes will require pruning and removal of untold number of trees. (Professional arborists’ rule of thumb is that if more than 25% of a tree canopy is to be pruned at any one time, the whole tree should be cut down. Even worse, research indicates that the trees left behind that are close to antennas would also be harmed from constant exposure to radio-frequency radiation.

Consider the independent research below related to the impacts on trees:


Take Action to Protect Trees Now!