Legislation

For Immediate Release. Statement by Rick Meyer, Executive Director, Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (MC4T) –Whoops, PHED Committee Chair Goofs Again; ZTA 19-07 Needs Big Band-Aid

For Immediate Release

Statement by: Rick Meyer, Executive Director,
Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (MC4T)

Whoops, PHED Committee Chair Goofs Again; ZTA 19-07 Needs Big Band-Aid

Councilmember Hans Reimer is fully admitting that he and the wireless industry lobbyists, who last year essentially spoon-fed the Montgomery County Council zoning language for ZTA 19-07, made a Titanic-sized mistake. A mistake so big it requires a “Mulligan ZTA” to repair a giant hole.

Today, Mr. Riemer introduced ZTA 2022-01, which is “fix-it” legislation to specifically include utility poles. Turns out that utility poles are separately defined under County wireless zoning code and not subject to ZTA 19-07. To fix the hole requires a ZTA 2022-01 patch job. Which means Mr. Reimer is also effectively conceding that when recommending ZTA 19-07 to the full Council, the PHED Committee that he chairs (including Councilmembers Andrew Friedson and Will Jawando), inexplicably managed to omit the essential giveaway that the wireless industry coveted most: Unfettered access to more than 30,000 utility poles in Montgomery County!

Further, ZTA 2022-01 will cut in half the minimum set-back distance in residential zones to just 30 feet for utility poles instead of the 60 feet that applies now. The “do over” illustrates that neither Mr. Riemer nor his co-sponsors (Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz and Craig Rice) had any idea when ZTA 19-07 was drafted back in 2018 how the wireless sections of Montgomery County’s complicated zoning code actually worked .

And even though Mr. Riemer’s PHED Committee added radical amendments offering up incredible handouts and concessions just to benefit wireless corporations (and ignoring opposition testimony of dozens of residents) ZTA 19-07 still wasn’t good enough! Those amendments included lopsided procedures and low-ball fees for conditional use hearings.

It took Mr. Riemer 5 years of flailing away at various failed wireless ZTAs to finally pass an industry written ZTA 19-07. He did so under the cover of the COVID-19 global health crisis that locked us all in our homes. He relied on “virtual” Council meetings with no further public hearings in the 20 months since the one and only public hearing – that was based only upon early un-amended drafts of the zoning change. After all that maneuvering , the wireless lobbyists belatedly discovered they’d managed (from their viewpoint) to pass a profoundly flawed ZTA 19-07.

So, Mr. Riemer and the wireless lobbyists now want more – they want ALL those utility poles just 30 feet from dwellings – and he is unabashedly asking the County Council to further pander to the wireless industry, again, by voting for a Mulligan (“do-over”) ZTA 2022-01.

Nice job, Councilmember Riemer. Go ahead, take another swing.

#30#

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Legislation

Jan. 18th, 2022 Testimony for Montgomery County Council Hearings on Resolutions to Implement Rules and Fees Related to ZTA 19-07

Jan. 18th , 2022 Testimony for Montgomery County Council Hearings on Resolutions to Implement Rules and Fees Related to ZTA 19-07

Colleen Cordes, Takoma Park. Please reject both proposals to implement ZTA 19-07.

Instead, immediately rescind ZTA 19-07. Don’t implement it while the FCC is in the midst of responding to its new court mandate to come up with a well-reasoned explanation for whatever exposure limits for wireless radiation it endorses. This should require the FCC to thoroughly review ALL science related to the safety of its exposure limits for health and the environment – which should be aided by robust reviews from pertinent federal agencies. The FCC should then come up with new exposure limits that are fully supported by such thorough scientific review.

As a body, you should strongly advocate directly to the FCC and our Congressional delegation for such robust review of ALL the science – and truly protective new limits. And drop any idea of implementing ZTA 19-07. Its assumption that it’s safe to drastically weaken County rules for placing cell towers is now clearly obsolete.

In July, seven of you irresponsibly rushed to vote for this ZTA, even though you knew a US Court of Appeals was expected to rule within weeks against the FCC, due to the FCC’s obvious failure to provide evidence its wireless safety limits are well-grounded in science. Yet several of you assured your constituents that we could trust FCC limits to protect us.

Now it’s clear you were wrong. The validity of the FCC’s limits are absolutely up in the air. Read the court’s blistering ruling. It found that FCC showed no sign of having taken into account reams of submitted evidence on children’s special vulnerability to radiation, effects of long-term exposures, non-cancer effects, the proliferation of wireless since FCC set limits 25 years ago, and impacts to wildlife and the environment. Any legal pressure on you to pass weak new zoning rules – which was never as onerous as you imagined – is now much less. Instead, your moral and potential legal exposure is now much greater if you do not rescind this ZTA.

Please stand up for science. Rescind this ZTA. Press FCC, based on a thorough review of ALL the science, to issue a well-reasoned explanation for new exposure limits that are truly protective. Thank you.

***

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Legislation

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

Summary

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.

E-MAIL THE COUNTY COUNCIL TODAY IN LESS THAN A MINUTE!

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.

 

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation

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!

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation

Urgent Action: Cell Towers Coming to #MoCo Homes if ZTA 19-07 passes. Please share widely

Tech Wise MoCo MD news banner

Dear Mo Co Friends and Neighbors,

This is it! The Mo Co Council is set to hold a work session on ZTA 19-07 that, if passed:

  • Allows short “small” cell towers—also called wireless transmission facilities—to be placed as close as 30 feet—or less—from our homes.
  • Our street lights can be replaced with these cell towers.
  • Our utility poles can be replaced with these cell towers.
  • No required notice or public hearing so long as they are 30 feet from homes!

Opposed to the removal of our right to participate in the decision making process?

We need you to take action. Join us! Sign our petition to County leaders opposing the ZTA.

History of the bill

In January of this year Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer re-introduced Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-07 that will allow small cell towers—also called wireless transmission facilities—to be placed as close as 30 feet—or less—from our homes. The PHED (Planning, Housing and Economic Development) Committee made additional changes that allowed existing street lights and utility poles to be replaced by stronger, wider poles to hold the cell antennas and heavy equipment. This bill has been rejected 5 times over the last 5 years but Councilmember Riemer keeps bringing it back.

Read MC4T’s SUMMARY OF What’s in ZTA 19-07: Montgomery County Council Poised to Vote on Radical ZTA 19-07 – IMPOSES CELL TOWERS NEAR HOMES – WITH NO MINIMUM SETBACKS!

We strongly oppose this bill and hope you will also.

Below are top issues raised around the World, the U.S. and by your Montgomery County neighbors about wireless installations—especially 5G—placed so close to homes:

  • Loss of local control over our historic rights of way in our own communities.
  • Eliminates resident voice in plans for cell towers; no resident notification and no public hearing required about cell towers in residential areas if placed 30 feet or more from homes.
  • Where 5G coverage is desired, it may be supplied from 5G signal transmitted from 3,000 feet up to 3 miles or more from antennas to homes.
  • 5G coverage already exists in many parts of the County. Check the coverage map for T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon.
  • 5G is NOT faster.
  • 5G has major cyber security problems by providing millions of entry points for hackers into key utilities and infrastructure.
  • 5G is designed to support 3 million wireless devices per square mile, digitizing our entire lives and monitoring behavior 24/7 with massive invasions of privacy–– a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
  • The NSA reports, “Focusing predominantly on 5G technology, the implications of privacy and security are contrasted across the competing requirements of high- speed, low-latency connectivity of billions of devices…the Internet is using much data about many people in many ways, and this raises privacy concerns.”
  • Concerns about compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA).
  • “Small” cell antennas in front of houses reduce property values, according to the Montgomery County Property Tax Appeals Board.
  • The Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board for Montgomery County lowered a Rockville home’s assessment: “Comparables warrant a reduction in value. Probability of neighboring cell tower also affects value negatively.”
  • MoCo has demonstrated a total lack of transparency and accountability with these local cell towers so far; this will just get worse as the number of small cell antennas vastly expands.
  • Bias towards industry—and its 5G propaganda—is short-circuiting elected officials’ duty to prioritize public interests.
  • The insurance industry will not insure cell towers, antennas, poles, wires, and devices due to the health risks and damages from long term exposure.
  • 255 leading scientists and experts in Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) from 45 nations have signed an Appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) asking for greater health protection on EMF exposure as of January 14, 2021.
  • As of June 2021, 301,023 signatories from 214 nations and territories have signed an Appeal to the UN, WHO, Council of Europe, and governments of all nations to halt the deployment of 5G wireless networks, including 5G from space satellites.

Montgomery County residents have continuously and strongly opposed the previous as well as the current proposed ZTA. Here are video-recordings from the two most recent public hearings:

Watch these informative presentations on the issues surrounding the ZTA:

Join our Petition to STOP the Cell Tower ZTA 19-07. It just takes a minute!

You may also contact the Mo Co Councilmembers directly by phone or individual emails.

However you contact the Council, please make sure you do it TODAY!

Contact us to be added to our e-News & Action Alerts. We will post many updates, including on upcoming public hearings, in these alerts.

 

For those who have asked how to help, please contact us if you are interested in receiving flyers and yard signs for your neighborhood. We also have PDF flyers and handouts available to download.

Share this email with with your Mo Co friends and neighbors.

Thank you,

Team Tech Wise Mo Co MD

Tech Wise Montgomery County Maryland logo

TechWiseMoCoMD.org

Montgomery County Coalition to Protect Neighborhoods

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation

MoCoSafeG.org Sample Letters: URGENT-OPPOSE CELL ANTENNAS IN FRONT OF OUR HOMES

-- STOP ZTA 19-07 - Contact the Montgomery County Council Today! --

Update: Tell MoCo Council: Stop ZTA 19-07. Email County Council TODAY through our Online Email Campaign: actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07

County Councilmember Hans Riemer has revived his 2019 proposal to let cell towers be built as close as 30 feet from our houses—on streetlights and utility poles, possibly two or more on a block. It does not correct the horrific 2018 setback of just 10 feet from homes in mixed-use zones. Despite strong resident opposition, Mr. Riemer seems eager to push this Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) through while everyone else is preoccupied by the pandemic. The Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee that he chairs voted to pass this ZTA on March 10th and now it goes to the County Council. It’s urgent to voice your concerns to the Council ASAP.

We need stronger safety reviews, oversight & restrictions—not thousands more cell towers, which is what we’ll get with ZTA 19-07!

Click image to enlarge. Tell MoCo Council: Stop ZTA 19-07 & fix what is wrong with the current cell-tower siting rules!

Lining our neighborhoods with small cell towers would increase climate change, reduce property values, beam radio-frequency microwave (RF/MW) radiation 24/7 into our homes -– just to name a few issues. (See details below!) A map exists of the intended plan for densification (cancel sign-in to gain access).

Even worse, in the past year, informed residents have exposed just how inept the County’s current oversight of existing wireless facilities is –– especially the antennas allowed to accumulate on top of affordable multi-family apartments without any inspections or measurements. No one, it turns out, knows for sure that the families who live directly under them are not being exposed to illegal levels of RF radiation! Please urge Mr. Riemer, the rest of the Council, and the County Executive to act immediately to end this blatant environmental injustice –– instead of rushing to inflict similar safety and health hazards on every resident in the County.

Mr. Riemer is a big fan of 5G. He apparently buys all of the telecom industry’s pro-5G advertising. However, what industry never mentions in their advertising are the many downsides to implementing 5G, including:

  • 5G would be a huge new energy hog -- intensifying our climate crisis. Energy experts estimate that wireless internet communication technologies could be responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, undermining our efforts to combat climate change. Many trees also would likely have to be cut down for 5G towers –– a further climate cost.
  • 5G has major cyber security problems by providing millions of entry points for hackers into key utilities and infrastructure.
  • 5G is designed to support 3 million wireless devices per square mile, digitizing our entire lives and monitoring behavior 24/7 with massive invasions of privacy–– a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
  • The NSA reports, “Focusing predominantly on 5G technology, the implications of privacy and security are contrasted across the competing requirements of high- speed, low-latency connectivity of billions of devices...the Internet is using much data about many people in many ways, and this raises privacy concerns.”
  • ZTA 19–07’s sponsors falsely suggest the pandemic has shown we need 5G, including to help wipe out the digital divide. What the pandemic has revealed is how many residents and businesses still need affordable access to safe, reliable, secure, high-speed Internet service. Improving wired connections –– that were paid for, but never delivered –– will meet that goal better than expanding wireless technology. We don’t need 5G in our neighborhoods. For equity, we need to make sure that wiring all the way to their premises for high-speed Internet is available for all residences –– including individual apartments –– and that the service is affordable for all, including businesses.
  • Montgomery County passed Bill 44-20 saying that racial equity and social justice issues must be considered in all county ordinances. However, zoning legislation will not be subject to the bill until September 2021 because of a transition clause. ZTA 19-07, if passed before then, will evade such scrutiny. Such scrutiny is essential, because the County’s process for cell-tower oversight is broken –– including its failure to monitor radiation levels inside affordable, multi-family housing and other buildings it lets be used like cell towers, even when the rooftop antennas exceed FCC limits.
  • “Small” cell antennas in front of houses reduce property values, according to the Montgomery County Property Tax Appeals Board.
  • The Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board for Montgomery County lowered a Rockville home’s assessment: “Comparables warrant a reduction in value. Probability of neighboring cell tower also affects value negatively.”
  • The Mayor of Takoma Park and most of Takoma Park’s City Council are part of an amicus brief supporting this same promising, landmark court case against the FCC. The case seems likely to push the FCC to thoroughly review decades of science indicating its 25–year–old exposure guidelines for wireless radiation are not applicable to modern technology, and to update them accordingly. Oral arguments were just heard in late January.
  • In 2018, Councilmember Riemer, in supporting a previous court challenge led by Montgomery County, noted that he and others had asked the FCC “to make every effort to consider all available research and update their RF emissions guidelines accordingly. They have declined to that...so we are taking them to court to ensure that they fulfill their responsibility to keep our residents safe.” ZTA 19–07 undermines the promising new effort above –– involving Takoma Park officials –– to finally achieve the County’s very own goal.
  • Evidence from hundreds of studies, including the definitive NIH National Toxicology Program Study, show that wireless radiation, from 2G, 3G and 4G –– all below 5G, cause biological and environmental effects. There is “clear evidence” of cancer from cell phone level radiation exposure. 4G/5G densification will add significantly to current levels of radiation exposure.
  • Symptoms are being experienced by wireless deployments in other areas: firefighters suffered neurological damage, cancer cluster at an elementary school with tower , and injuries in Switzerland.
  • 252 leading scientists and experts in Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) from 43 nations have signed an Appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) asking for greater health protection on EMF exposure as of October 2019.
  • The insurance industry will not insure cell towers, antennas, poles, wires, and devices due to the health risks and damages from long term exposure.
  • As of March 2020, 203,659 signatories from 203 nations and territories have signed an Appeal to the UN, WHO, Council of Europe, and governments of all nations to halt the deployment of 5G wireless networks, including 5G from space satellites.

Below is a sample letter you can personalize and send to your District member and all At-Large Montgomery County Council members (Glass, Albornoz, Jawando, and Riemer, the sponsor). Include your address on your District letter.

Note: Councilmember Riemer is the lead sponsor, while Gabe Albornoz, County Council Vice President, and Craig Rice, Councilmember for District 2, are co-sponsors. However, they are not on Mr. Riemer’s PHED committee, which is taking the lead on ZTA 19–07. The only other two members of that committee are Councilmember Jawando and Councilmember Friedson, so please be sure to contact them ASAP!

If you would like to help on this issue or get more information, please email our great group of informed citizens at info@mocosafeg.org

To: Montgomery County Council

Short:

I am writing to request that you vote against ZTA 19–07, which would allow densified 4G and 5G “small” cell microwave radiation antennas in residential areas of Montgomery County. I oppose deploying untested, ultra-high frequency microwave radiation in Montgomery County. Several lawsuits against the FCC for its unreasonable Orders and outdated exposure guidelines have been brought to court by Montgomery County and its affiliates. We ask you to table this amendment until all devices are proven safe for all Montgomery County citizens, our environment, and the core values of our society. In the meantime, rewrite wireless zoning for maximum protections for our communities until FCC standards are safer for people and the environment.

Likewise, require warnings be made mandatory for every Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) installation, and in every commercial venue with WiFi, antennas, small cells, etc. The robust promotion of 5G for this ZTA is new, therefore another public hearing on ZTA 19–07 is urged by your constituency.

Sincerely,

<organizations and individuals names, address>

Stronger:

The undersigned organizations and individuals request that you publicly oppose and vote against ZTA 19–07, which would allow deployment of intensified 4G and new 5G “small cell” microwave radiation antennas in residential areas of Montgomery County. We support a wired-based, fiber to the premises solution as the more secure, cheaper, faster technical solution without the property devaluation, insurance liability, and health risks.

The proposed 4G/5G antennas and their networks are likely to have long standing effects in many areas: climate, the ecosystem in general, privacy invasion, cyber security, reduced property values, and human health –– especially in children. The insurance industry has calculated the medical risks are too high to cover, so the proposed, and existing, wireless infrastructure of towers, antennas, poles, and supporting equipment in Montgomery would have no insurance coverage for damages from long-term exposures.

The 4G microwave radiation infrastructure and devices have more than 2,000 scientific and medical studies linking exposures to biological effects for people, wildlife, and plants. This radiation appears to be especially riskier to children and other medically vulnerable people. Other nations and cities are rejecting 5G and small antennas due to these biological effects. Montgomery County needs to rewrite wireless zoning for maximum protections of our communities and establish “safe havens” that accommodate its medically vulnerable population.

The new 5G technology includes ultra-high frequency millimeter microwave radiation, which has higher energy per square meter and greater capacity for risk to people and the environment than 4G. No safety studies have established a level at which this frequency is safe, and 5G service will include 4G, which we already know is dangerous. Warning signs, viewable to the public, Warning signs that are viewable to the public need to be mandatory for every WTF installation, and in every commercial venue with WiFi, antennas, small cells, etc.

Furthermore, Montgomery County was party to a lawsuit against the FCC for their failure to thoroughly review and update their exposure guidelines. Legal challenges continue against the FCC’s guidelines –– most notably, EHT et al vs FCC, for which many Takoma Park elected officials signed on to the Amicus Brief. Additionally, the U.S. District Court of Appeals found in United Keetoowah Band vs FCC (August 9, 2019) that the FCC was “arbitrary and capricious” in exempting 5G infrastructure from health, environmental, and historical review. As a result, the FCC is under judicial order not to proceed with enforcement of their requirement that local jurisdictions pass legislation such as ZTA 19–07.

Alternatives exist with wired networks such as fiber optic, known as “SafeG”. Fiber optic is already in place in many areas. It has no health risks, and the service is documented in locally-owned networks to be much faster, cheaper, more energy efficient, while providing more reliable data integrity and protecting privacy. Wired internet also remains subject to local regulatory control.

Protection of our safety, health, and environment is the primary purpose of our government and of your representation of us, the electorate. We ask you to table this amendment until all medical, scientific, and legal issues are resolved, and the proposed technology, infrastructure, and devices are proven safe for all Montgomery County citizens, our environment, and the core values of our society. The heavy promotion of 5G for this ZTA is new. Therefore, another public hearing on ZTA 19–07 is urged by your constituency.

Sincerely,

<organizations and individuals names, address>

Use your address to find your district at

https://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/mccouncildistrict/

Marc Elrich, County Executive ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov

At-Large: Hans Riemer, Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7964

At-Large: Will Jawando, Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7811

District 1: Andrew Friedson, Councilmember.Friedson@montgomerycountymd.gov 240- 777-7828 (Bethesda, Potomac, and Poolesville)

District 2: Craig Rice, Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777-7955 (Clarksburg, Damascus, and Germantown)

District 3: Sidney Katz, Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7906 (Gaithersburg and Rockville)

District 4: Nancy Navarro, Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov 240- 777-7968 (Colesville, Laytonsville, Olney, and Wheaton)

District 5: Tom Hucker, Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7960 (Burtonsville, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park)

At-Large: Evan Glass, Councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov 240-777- 7966

At-Large: Gabe Albornoz, Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov 240- 777-7959

 

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation

Tell MoCo Council: Don’t Weaken Cell-Tower Rules — Especially Not While Major Cases Challenging the FCC’s Outdated Safety Standards are Being Litigated

Why would the County rush to allow tens of thousands of new residential cell towers under the FCC’s lax safety standards from 1996— BEFORE a court decision in a promising legal challenge to get the FCC to finally update them?

Don’t MoCo residents deserve up-to-date protections?

The case — Environmental Health Trust et al v. FCC — would push the FCC to finally re-align its exposure limits for radio-frequency radiation from cell towers, cellphones, and other wireless devices with the latest science.

As lead sponsor again, Hans Riemer, with this proposed legislation, makes his fourth attempt over the past three years, to make it faster, cheaper, and easier for Big Wireless to install bulky, high-powered wireless antenna transmitters and related equipment as close as 30 feet, and sometimes closer, to single-family zoned homes.

We need your support to STOP ZTA 19-07 once and for all!  

Email County Council TODAY with our Online Action Tool:
actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07

 

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation

JANUARY 25, 2021 UPDATE HE’S BACK!! COUNCILMEMBER RIEMER RE-INTRODUCES ZTA 19-07 WHILE ANNOUNCING A “FINAL PUSH” TO PASS INDUSTRY FRIENDLY ZONING REGS IN THE MIDST OF A RAGING PANDEMIC

January 25, 2021 UPDATE
* SHARE AND DISTRIBUTE WIDELY *
By Rick Meyer, Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers

HE'S BACK!!

COUNCILMEMBER RIEMER RE-INTRODUCES  ZTA19-07  

while announcing A "FINAL PUSH" TO PASS INDUSTRY FRIENDLY ZONING REGS IN THE MIDST OF A RAGING PANDEMIC

Councilmember Hans Reimer (D/At-Large) last week issued press release setting February 10, 2021 as the date he intends to revisit action (again) on Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) 19-07 that had been "suspended" almost exactly one year prior.

We remain STRONGLY OPPOSED to this very ONEROUS zoning bill, which is completely unfriendly to County residents.  Particularly at this time when residents and most elected officials of the County Government are focused on beating COVID-19.

The press release contains numerous assertions that are NOT supported by data, and it misleadingly scrambles analogies between WIRED and WIRELESS networks. A full fact-check on the press release will be ready later this week.

As lead sponsor again, Mr. Riemer, with this proposed legislation, makes his fourth attempt  over the past three years, to make it faster, cheaper, and easier for Big Wireless to install bulky, high-powered wireless antenna transmitters and related equipment as close as 30 feet, and sometimes closer, to single-family zoned homes.

ZTA 19-07 is co-sponsored by Council Vice-President Gabe Albornoz (At-Large) and Councilmember Craig Rice (District 2). Both co-sponsors are quoted in the press release.  However, neither Mr. Albornoz nor Mr. Rice serves on the Planning, Housing & Economic Development (PHED) Committee which has jurisdiction over wireless zoning issues.

Why Riemer Pulled the Bill in 2020

Mr. Riemer, as Chair of the County Council's PHED Committee, summarily pulled a scheduled vote on the proposed bill from the Committee agenda on February 1st of last year. He was apparently unable to enlist the support of PHED Committee members -- Councilmembers Andrew Friedson (D - District 1) and  Will Jawando (D/At-Large) -- in order to move the bill out of the committee. Committee approval is necessary to bring the bill to full Council for consideration and final vote.

The Council conducted a hearing last year where two dozen County residents testified to register STRONG disapproval of the ZTA.  Of the scant number who spoke in favor of the ZTA, most of them had ties to the wireless industry (lobbyists and outside lawyers).

County Executive Marc Elrich submitted testimony OPPOSED to ZTA 19-07 at the hearing in January 2020.  Mr. Elrich urged the Council to pause, so that comprehensive zoning legislation and administrative regulations could be developed to address the wireless issues. And he conveyed his intent for staff and agencies to develop the legislation and regulations by working with residents and technical experts, not just industry lobbyists.

It was reported last year that neither Mr. Friedson, nor Mr. Jawando would support ZTA 19-07 while Montgomery County was actively engaged in two lawsuits against the FCC. (Those lawsuits are very briefly described below.) So, rather than be defeated in a formal (and public) Committee vote, Mr. Riemer - as Chair - simply removed the item from consideration the day before scheduled vote last year and placed bill in suspension.  (More explanation about Mr. Riemer's sidestep on ZTA 19-07 can be found in this Bethesda Beat article...)

However, if Mr. Reimer can swing just one PHED member to support ZTA 19-07 this year - a full and final Council vote could come as soon as early March 2021.

There is unlikely to be another hearing allowing public testimony. So we must stop ZTA 19-07 in Committee – with a formal vote.
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We need your support to STOP ZTA 19-07 once and for all!  

We urge each of you to email both Mr. Friedson and Mr. Jawando TODAY (along with the 4 other Councilmembers who have NOT sponsored this bill). Tell Councilmembers to prioritize the concerns of County residents and neighborhoods ahead of the interests of Big Wireless.

Find Council Contact Information at the bottom of this page

More details will be coming soon.

 

Montgomery County's Lawsuits Against the FCC

Updated: July 15, 2020 (Another update will be posted here very soon).

The County remains engaged in two very important pending lawsuits against the FCC. Decisions are expected sometime in the second half of this year.  These lawsuits are:

  1. Challenge to FCC's 3rd Order(WC docket 17-84 and WT docket 17-79) as adopted in August 2018. Montgomery County was one of more than 40 municipalities and counties (plus many other entities) that contested the FCC's "3rd Order." The FCC's issuance of the 3rd Order was widely interpreted as a huge win by the wireless industry where Chairman Pai's FCC allowed expedited roll-out of 5G at expense of local regulatory authority over public rights-of-way. The various multiple lawsuits contesting the 3rd Order were consolidated into the 9th Circuit. Oral arguments were heard by a three-judge panel on February 10, 2020. Video of the proceedings can be seen here:
  2. Challenge to FCC's failure to update 1996 RF Emissions standards. This separate lawsuit was funded exclusively by Montgomery County and filed in early 2019. The suit seeks to compel the FCC to update RF emission rules to reflect realities of close proximity wireless transmitters that Big Wireless is installing for 4G and 5G technology. {You can read more about Montgomery County's suit here.} Keep in mind that small cell technology did not exist in 1996 - when almost all wireless facilities were on taller "macro towers" or on roof tops of multi-story commercial buildings - usually away from general public. Montgomery County's litigation against the FCC's failure to act on RF emissions was also consolidated with case(s) described above in 9th Circuit. Oral arguments were also heard on February 10, 2020.

It is no small irony, that Mr. Reimer and Mr. Rice, who were both on the Council in November 2018 voted IN FAVOR of the RF Emissions litigation at the urging of outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett. And, yet both would subsequently introduce and support ZTA 19-07 which seeks to expedite 5G rollout with NO new RF safety standards!

The FCC Tries to Cut Legs Out from Under Montgomery County's RF Emissions Lawsuit

On November 27, 2019 the FCC very suddenly decided to end a long running "Notice of Inquiry" that had sought public input on whether FCC should amend RF Emissions standards. (It was the failure of the FCC to conclude this very inquiry that led to Montgomery County's second lawsuit described above.) The FCC found in Order 19-226 that - despite extensive public comments and ample scientific data to the contrary:

  • "no appropriate basis for and thus decline to propose amendments to existing (RF emissions) limits - at this time."
  • imputted the safety of RF emissions to include all "modern" technology and then streamlined criteria for licensing.
  • decided that methodology for assessing high frequency (gigahertz GHz) devices will be extended to apply to THz frequencies, as well; and,
  • denied a petition regarding health exposure to outer ears - by treating these sensitive sensory organs just "like all other extremities."

Council Effectively Declines to Appeal FCC Order 19-226 - and Slams Door Shut on Back-up Strategy to Beat FCC

During February 10, 2020  oral arguments members of three-judge 9th Circuit panel very pointedly asked County's legal counsel whether Montgomery County was appealing the FCC's action in 19-226.

Surprising, the County's legal counsel answered: "No!"

As a important footnote, the Council held a "Executive Session" - out of public view - on January 28, 2020 to meet with legal counsel (Keller & Heckman) representing County regarding lawsuit on RF emissions. Regrettably, as is the Council's custom, the Executive Session meeting minutes provide no summary of the actual discussion nor the conclusions reached by Council - except that "guidance was provided to the County Executive."  As such, the Council has made no public announcements regarding the January 28, 2020 closed Council session where "FCC litigation" was reportedly discussed, nor provided any interim updates to residents of Montgomery County  on progress of this very important litigation.

But from all appearances, the County Council apparently declined to file as intervenor (or even file amicus brief) to support the very  important  Petition for Reconsideration as filed by the Environmental Health Trust seeking to specifically overturn Order 19-226.

The EHT petition asserts that the FCC (in Order 19-226) improperly terminated a Notice of Inquiry begun in 2013 to update RF Emissions standards and by doing so unlawfully disregarded a large body of evidence in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. (APA)

Thus, through action/or inaction in secret Executive Session, the Council may have effectively closed off the only possible backup alternative if the 9th Circuit rejects the County's own RF Emissions lawsuit for lack of standing. (e.g. the FCC did what the County's lawsuit asked and ended the Notice of Inquiry.) In other words, there is real possibility that County's second lawsuit becomes moot, even if outcome of updated RF regulations were not issued as County sought.

Legal Counsel leading EHT's appeal is Montgomery County resident Ed Myers, who recently factored prominently in a successful legal challenge against FCC in United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, et al v. FCC, 933 F.3d 728 (D.C. Cir., Aug 19, 2019). In fact, the County's own lawsuit against the FCC (the second suit listed above) even cites that decision in it's brief!

Email County Council TODAY with our Online Action Tool:

actionnetwork.org/letters/stop-zta-19-07

Council Contact Information

Gabe Albornoz 240-777-7959
Councilmember.Albornoz@montgomerycountymd.gov

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

Evan Glass 240-777-7966
Councilmember.Glass@montgomerycountymd.gov

Tom Hucker 240-777-7960
Councilmember.Hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov

Will Jawando 240-777-7811
Councilmember.Jawando@montgomerycountymd.gov

Sidney Katz 240-777-7906
Councilmember.Katz@montgomerycountymd.gov

Nancy Navarro 240-777-7968
Councilmember.Navarro@montgomerycountymd.gov

Craig Rice 240-777-7955
Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov

Hans Riemer 240-777-7964
Councilmember.Riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov

Latest FCC Lawsuit information:

ZTA 19-07 Opposition Testimony Spotlight: Sue Present, Individual

November 19, 2019 - Council Session - Evening Public Hearing (ZTA 19-07)

Related Posts:

Posted by techwisemocoadmin in Action Alert, Legislation

Community Vision for Takoma ZTA19-07 Testimony

YOUR CHOICE IS CLEAR:

Champion Public Interests – Or Let the Telecom Industry Rule Our Streets

Nov. 19, 2019 Statement on behalf of Community Vision for Takoma*

by Colleen Cordes

Our Health and Safety Is Not Negotiable — Letting cell towers be installed as close as 30 feet from homes is to gamble with our health and the health of our children and grandchildren. Everyone on the Council is smart enough to know that we live in a world where good people work for big corporations – but where the first priority of the corporations they work for is profits, not people. So we’re not surprised that the good people of the telecom industry have spent decades trying to prevent and suppress important emerging science about the potentially serious health risks of radio-frequency radiation on our health and wellbeing. We are not surprised that they are trying to seduce the County into surrendering our public rights of way without a peep, with promises of amazing high-tech wonders to come. What we are surprised by, Councilmembers Hans Riemer, Gabe Albornoz, and Craig Rice, is that so far you seem to be so naïvely falling for this hype.

Everyone knows the FCC is a Captured Agency – But What About the Montgomery County Council? – The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University actually published a long exposé in 2015: Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates. To each member of our own County Council, know that we are paying attention and we will remember when the next election rolls around: Did you vote to let the Council be captured by the telecom industry as well? This is not a threat – it’s a statement of reality.

What is the Crowd Here Tonight So Concerned About?

  • Serious Potential Public-Health Risk: Consider, for example, the science-based commentary published by Scientific American last month–We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe . Written by Joel M. Moscowitz, Ph.D., who directs the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California at Berkeley, it links to a recent call from hundreds of scientists and doctors for a 5G moratorium.
  • Corporate Welfare, Compliments of Taxpayers:  Corporations prefer to place cell towers in public rights-of-way since they can use our land at cost rather than negotiate a rate with a private property owner: It’s a much more profitable business model.
  • A Host of Other Social and Ecological Concerns About 5G Yet to be Subject to Public Debate:  The sponsors of ZTA 19-07 repeat industry’s hype about the positive potential of 5G. What about its negative potential? In addition to health concerns, critical predictions include:
    • A new world of 24/7 corporate and government surveillance and control.
    • Further diversion from face-to-face relationships with people and nature.
    • Severe pruning and reduced planting sites for shade trees, at an ecological moment in time when trees are more important than ever.
    • Increases in unemployment thanks to a huge push for autonomous trucks and cars and services of all kinds.
    • Ever more biased algorithms in AI-enabled tracking devices in all aspects of our daily lives contributing to new racial inequities.
    • And a big increase in energy use to power the multitude of new connected devices.

Remember the wonders of lead, asbestos, tobacco, CFCs, and fossil fuels? Let’s critically evaluate this new technology before we dive in — not be sorry later. Let’s get savvy. Drop the gee-whiz naivete about the next technological revolution. It’s clearly premature to line our residential streets with cell towers to speed the deployment of 5G. We need wisdom-based, not profit-based technology policies, generated only after robust public participation in decisions about the design and use of powerful technologies. The public should have access, for our deliberations, to a strong base of thoughtful, carefully researched analyses that scrutinize the full range of potential social and ecological impacts — both good and bad. ZTA 19-07 fails to meet any of these tests of wisdom.

And Councilmember Riemer, please stop distributing that canned statement from the American Cancer Society – last subject to a medical review, by the way, five years ago. We know it’s one of industry’s favorite ” don’t worry” go-to articles. Have you investigated whether the Society has connections to corporations that are invested in the speedy rollout of 5G? Did you not know that the ACS, related to other issues, has been criticized for conflicts of interest (See: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/is-the-american-cancer-society-putting-money-ahead-of-mission/) and questionable partnerships with corporations (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/health/american-cancer-society-brawley-resigns.html)?

See also: The Miseducation of America | By Dr. Devra Davis | Mar 29, 2021 An expose on the major omissions of fact from the New York Times July 16, 2019 article on 5G by William J. Broad.

Councilmember Riemer, you’ve also directed us to pro-5G stories in The New York Times. Here’s news straight from the NYT about its new partnership with Verizon involving NYT getting early access to 5G networking and equipment – talk about an incredible PR opportunity for the telecom industry! (See: https://open.nytimes.com/exploring-the-future-of-5g-and-journalism-a53f4c4b8644 ) And here’s more news about increasing links between Verizon and NYT — this one from the Wall Street Journal, which describes “a deepening advertising partnership between the two companies.” (See: https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-sponsors-new-york-times-subscriptions-for-high-schools-11569492001 ) Other news media have their own financial conflicts. Have you noticed the full-page ads for 5G from Verizon and T-Mobile in The Washington Post lately? We’ve noticed – we hope you will put the dollar signs here together as well.

Racial Equity and Social Justice: An especially urgent issue – the danger that the siting of cell towers in our neighborhoods will target our most affordable neighborhoods first and unfairly often. This is a pressing issue of racial equity.  Consider the County’s record to date in allowing large installations of cell antennas at affordable housing sites that are home primarily to families of color. ZTA 19-07 would do absolutely nothing to change that, or to prevent communities of color from once again being asked to shoulder far more than their share of the risks to health and safety.

Community Vision for Takoma urges the County to commission an immediate full scale, on-site audit of what actual health exposures are right now at apartments at 7600 Maple Avenue. Those 189-units provide an affordable home to many individuals and families of color. They have a right to safe shelter and to be fully informed. If our County commitment to racial equity and affordable housing means anything, we urge you to make sure a comprehensive, on-site review of what’s happening there gets started this week. That would include a detailed study of actual current conditions, including what warning signs are posted and in what languages, if protective physical barriers are in place, who has access to the two roof levels and the penthouse, and a comprehensive study of radio frequency emissions on top of, inside, around the perimeter and the grounds.

We brought this urgent issue to the Tower Committee this month – after an application to replace some of the 33 antennas there predicted that areas of the roof would register 25 times the limits for the general public’s exposure to RF radiation allowed by the FCC’s way too lenient rules. The Chair of the Committee threatened to throw us out of the meeting. But we’re not leaving the room. All applications for wireless transmission facilities should be subject to a review for their impact on racial equity and social justice.

It’s your choice, and your constituents are paying attention: Will you champion public interests or let the telecom industry rule Montgomery County’s streets? Please, prioritize the social and ecological health of our County: Community Vision for Takoma opposes ZTA 19-07, and we refuse to consent to be part of this experiment.

 


* Community Vision for Takoma (CVT) is a volunteer group working for an inclusive, just, and compassionate community and an effective, responsive local government.  We strive to apply Takoma Park’s progressive legacy to the social and ecological challenges of the 21st century. This version has been slightly revised from our submitted written testimony.

Posted by techwisemocoadmin