An MML priority for the third consecutive year, retention of local authority to site small wireless infrastructure in public rights-of-way was back in the spotlight on Tuesday afternoon, January 21. The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over this issue, held a public briefing to discuss 5G and small cells in Maryland.
MML President Ryan Spiegel, Gaithersburg City attorney Lynn Board, MML staff Bill Jorch, and Natasha Mehu from the Maryland Association of Counties made up the first panel to present to the committee. This group painted a picture of successful small cell deployments in Maryland and local jurisdictions getting prepared for installations through passage of ordinances and aesthetic standards. The federal government has already preempted some local authority and Maryland’s municipalities are seeking to retain the authority to negotiate where the structures go and what they look like.
The hearing concluded after questions from the senators and a panel presentation by the wireless companies. Chairwoman Kelly seemed to indicate that there is not much of an appetite for a statewide bill this session, but anything is possible this time of year and MML will stay plugged in on this issue.