Taos County updates land use code for antennae

5G not main reason for changes

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 6/6/19

Despite the buzz around town, Taos County officials say no company has come to them proposing 5G wireless services in Taos. When the county began discussing changes to …

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Taos County updates land use code for antennae

5G not main reason for changes

Posted

Despite the buzz around town, Taos County officials say no company has come to them proposing 5G wireless services in Taos.

When the county began discussing changes to the wording in the land use code residents took that to mean it would allow the new high-speed technology, which some people oppose. But a 5G antennae would already be allowed under the existing land use code, providing it doesn't increase the height of an existing communication tower, according to county officials.

The Taos County Board of Commissioners will hear a proposed change to the land use codes during a June 11 meeting at which County Planning Director Edward Vigil will propose new wording in the land use codes for providers wanting to bring in antennae for communications services. According to Vigil, some of the language in the codes contradicts itself in the application process and Vigil wants the language to be clear, legal and abide by federal standards as well.

An applicant came to Vigil wanting to add an antenna on an existing tower and during the process of determining what permit, if any, was needed, Vigil and an attorney spotted the issue.

One section of the code said a commercial zoning permit was needed, which requires no public hearing and is a relatively simple process. Another section stated the need for a special use permit if the structure was going to be changed by a certain amount. A special use permit requires public hearings and for neighbors to be notified. A third section of the code overrides the need for a permit, as does federal law concerning communication antennae.

Vigil said he wants the language to be as clear as possible and to not make any applicants go through unnecessary steps.

Several members of the community have taken this change as an open invitation for the growing concerns of 5G services to seep into Taos.

"No one has approached Taos County to say Taos County is next in line for 5G services," Vigil said. "If 5G is implemented, it's going to be in the metropolitan areas first."

The change in the code allows for applicants to add to an existing communications tower with little to no hassle, which could accommodate a 5G antennae, but no such applications exist at the moment.

Members of the community have been sending county officials their concerns about 5G and the county wanted to be clear that this code change is not about 5G.

"Our community is active and they want to be informed," said County Manager Brent Jaramillo. "This just bloomed into something that it's not."

Members of the community are holding a discussion about 5G at 6:30 p.m., Monday (June 10) at the Bent Lodge at 124 Camino de Santiago.

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