After hearing advice from a property owner regarding proposed changes suggested by the planning and zoning commission to the town wireless facilities ordinance, Dewey Beach commissioners tabled a vote on the issue Nov. 19 to review the feasibility of the ideas with the town’s wireless consultant.
Commissioners were swayed by Maryam Tabrizi, a Coastal Stewards Delaware member and homeowners association president of The Perch, who called in during public comment with a host of recommendations.
Tabrizi said she noticed that environmental review is included in the ordinance, but that wind speed and historic review of properties should be added when considering placement of facilities.
“Typical wind speeds of Verizon equipment might be 40 mph, and we know in Delaware we approach hurricane wind speeds and nor’easter wind speeds, so we need to be sure any kind of equipment in our coastal town reaches and is able to withstand 140 mph wind speed,” Tabrizi said.
Tabrizi suggested that residents be notified if poles are being installed next to their homes, and that any 50-foot poles be located on the median of Coastal Highway and not on side streets next to residences.
Wireless facilities should be prohibited on all pedestrian walkways, not just sidewalks, to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, she added.
Radio frequency emissions should be verified annually by a third party, Tabrizi said, and the mandated use of best available and stealth technology needs “more teeth” in its description.
Tabrizi urged commissioners not to vote on the ordinance before reviewing her suggestions and identifying all issues within the ordinance that need to be improved.
Commissioner Paul Bauer said Tabrizi raised important concerns; rather than kicking the can down the road another 30 days, Bauer asked if commissioners could vote on the ordinance now and tighten it up again in two weeks.
Commissioner Gary Persinger said he wondered about passing the ordinance and then tweaking it again. At some point, wireless vendors will say town officials have a moving target rather than a set ordinance.
Town Manager Bill Zolper said the quicker the ordinance is finalized, the better, but it needs to be done right; he wanted the town wireless consultant, CTC, to review Tabrizi’s comments.
Zolper said he would send Tabrizi’s comments to all commissioners, who would independently provide their comments to him so he could consult with CTC for final improvements.
Commissioners will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Lifesaving Station to possibly vote to approve the draft ordinance. The full agenda and link to the virtual meeting are available at townofdeweybeach.com.