More than two years after Verizon installed its 5G poles on the dunes in Dewey Beach, and one year after an agreement was settled to move them, town officials say a recent breakthrough in discussions may have forged a path forward to resolve the matter.
At the Dec. 16 commissioners meeting, Mayor Bill Stevens said there would be no commissioner vote to approve a relocation plan for the poles, as the issue is now administrative in terms of following the ordinance.
“We’ve done everything that we can possibly do without going against the ordinance we’ve already written,” Stevens said, and asked for an update.
Town Manager Bill Zolper said Town Counsel Fred Townsend and Assistant Town Manager Jim Dedes have been working with Verizon and town wireless consultant CTC.
“At this time, we are waiting for Verizon to provide us with some additional information for both CTC to evaluate and for the town to review,” Zolper said.
Dedes said he has had several conversations with Verizon’s government liaison and believes everyone is trying to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
“There have been some stumbling blocks, and part of it has to do with what they interpret as proprietary information in releasing certain RF signal data on what their communications equipment is capable of doing,” Dedes said.
The town will honor whatever proprietary information is presented and move forward as quickly as possible, Dedes said. The town had prioritized three areas for placement of the poles, Dedes said, including on Route 1 and to colocate.
Verizon has a statement from Delmarva Power which restricts where colocation on its poles can occur, Dedes said. The third priority for placement of the poles is on a commercial building, Dedes said, and CTC is reviewing a statement from Verizon that says that FCC regulations state the town can’t require a utility company to move equipment from a public to a private area.
Townsend said he has had a number of pleasant exchanges with Verizon’s in-house counsel and is confident the town will be able to move forward with relocating the poles from the dunes.
“I think they are sincerely committed to cooperating with the agreement, the stipulation they had reached,” Townsend said. “It's just a question of satisfying CTC with sufficient information. I think there is a path forward. I think we may have had a breakthrough here recently.”
The town does not have in-house technical expertise to evaluate representations made about appropriate locations for the equipment, so it must rely on CTC, Townsend said.
“I think CTC may come into possession with some additional information that will enable them to evaluate the position taken by Verizon and hopefully we'll see progress here in the coming 30, 60, 90 days,” Townsend said.