MILTON, Ga. — The state law expediting the rollout of 5G technology will take effect Oct. 1, and to stay ahead to the curve, Milton adopted an ordinance at its Sept. 9 meeting that will give the city some say on its deployment. 

The new state law limits local control and expedites the process for telecommunications providers to install small cell towers and other equipment needed for the 5G rollout. City Attorney Ken Jarrard said the law means Milton’s right of ways are “fair game” for the installation of new utility poles, the placement of equipment on existing poles or the replacement of structures that cannot support the 5G equipment. 

“The expectation is, they are going to be able to come into the city of Milton, they are going to be able to apply for a permit, they are going to be able to pay a fee, and so long as they meet the requirements of the state law and our code, they get a permit,” Jarrard said. “This law is comprehensive, it almost takes the place of most building codes with respect to the small wireless facilities.” 

While the city’s hands are mostly tied on where companies can install the equipment in Milton’s right of way, the law does give cities some leeway. The small cell ordinance passed at last week’s meeting takes advantage of those provisions. 

The ordinance requires a telecom company to notify the city at least 30 days before applying for a small cell tower permit. It also states that companies will inform the city of how many towers it expects to deploy in a 24-month period and a timeframe for completion.

“The ordinance demands it,” Jarrard said.

Milton will also charge companies the maximum fees and rates allowable under the law. Providers will be charged a one-time fee of $100 for the co-location of equipment on an existing pole and $100 per year.  For a new pole, companies will be charged a $1,000 one-time fee and $250 annual fee. 

Jarrard said higher rates were originally proposed by the Legislature but those figures were ultimately lowered. 

“The General Assembly wanted this done, and they wanted to make the environment where the rollout for [5G] would not be stopped by high rates,” he said. 

Jarrard said the city’s options for denying a permit are “very technical” under the law. He said only in situations such as a pole providing sightline issues for drivers or the equipment overstressing a pole could the city deny the permit. 

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