BOCC Public Hearing – Comments needed
“The new wireless code does not offer you a voice, input or notification on what could beinstalled right outside your home.”
Thurston County Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing
Tuesday, Feb. 7th, 5:30pm.
- Sign & Share or Petition here.
- Make a written comment (or several) here, or emailed to Amelia.Schwartz@co.thurston.wa.us before noon, Feb. 7th.
- Make an In-Person/Zoom comment at the Feb. 7th 5:30pm meeting (this is more effective than written alone). This hearing will be at the new Atrium Facility on Pacific Ave, location and zoom registration here.
View the Public Hearing materials (including the draft code) here: http://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/planning/Pages/dev-code-wireless.aspx.
View the recommendations of the Citizens on the Wireless Stakeholder Committee here:
Tell the board that you support the Stakeholder Committee citizen recommendations.
What are we asking for:
- Application notice and hearings for all wireless facilities, including those in the Right of Way, which can be installed as close as 10′ from your home, school, or business.
- Larger setbacks and reasonable limits on placement for all facility types.
- Independent or County run testing of on the ground EMF radiation exposure levels before, after, and randomly to verify compliance.
- Design standards (in the code) with protections for public safety and property values.
Please mention these four items in your comments.
We need as many people as possible to make written and verbal comments (preferably verbal or both) at the Feb. 7th meeting. Our efforts were already successful at forming a stakeholder committee, however the recommendations were not implemented due to arbitrary limitations put on the planning commission. The County Commissioners can make the needed changes. View the recommendations of the citizens on the stakeholder committee here.
What can you do to help:
- Forward this to your friends who live in Thurston county. Post messages on Nextdoor, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter asking Thurston Residents to comment. This is not a partisan issue, virtually no one wants these close to their home.
- Make a verbal comment at the Feb. 7th meeting (this is more effective than written alone). Instructions form in-person or zoom comment can be found here.
- Make a written comment (or several) prior to Feb.7th. Online form here.
(or email: Amelia.Schwartz@co.thurston.wa.us).
- Meet with the county commissioners. Commissioners are happy to meet with concerned citizens, they want to understand and help. You can email and ask for a meeting or send them a direct message HERE. or:
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- If you want to be more involved please contact us. We are looking for people who are skilled at social media and know how to reach a lot of people in the area. Or if you have other ideas (and time to do them), let us know.
- If you would like us to speak to your group who wants to get involved, please let us know.
- If you have expertise in this area, either legal, scientific, or organizational, and you want to help, please reach out.
The Commissioners want to do the right thing, but are unaware of the issues and are looking to the public to inform them. Constructive comments will be most effective in persuading the Commissioners to draft a reasonable code.
For more specific information about problems with the draft code, please keep reading.
The biggest problems with the code are:
There are virtually no rules for “small wireless facilities (SWF)” when in the right of way (the strip of land between the road and your house, ROW) or for “collocations”. The rules are almost as lax when they are on private property. SWF’s are 4G/5g antennas that are smaller in physical dimension than macro facilities, but still very large, with associated equipment boxes, noisy fans and generators, etc. They can be as powerful or more powerful than large/macro antenna’s. Collocation means putting a wireless facility of any size on any existing structure; this could be a street light, power pole, billboard, your neighbors house or business, etc.
Some specific draft code issues:
- No meaningful setbacks as long as it’s within the right of way (ROW) or facilities defined as a “small” wireless facility or for “collocation” – it can be as close as 10′ from the side and 25′ from the front of your house, school, or business. They can also install up to 4 ground based equipment boxes without requirement for concealment, landscaping, or noise limits.
- No public notice, comments, or hearing with many facility types. Due process is completely removed for the facilities that will be closest to you in the ROW, non-residential zoned properties, and collocations, your only option is a court injunction.
- For facilities in the ROW a sign informing of the installation is posted 3 days prior, no other notice is given and no ability to comment. No notice at all for collocations on private property.
- Allowance of wireless facilities in the ROW without any ROW rules specific to wireless facilities.
- For facilities in most non-residential zones no notice at all is given and no ability to comment.
- For facilities being installed on an existing structure such as a power pole, building, school, etc. in any zone there is no notice and no ability to comment.
- Setbacks are too small for all facility types, spacing is too small for all facility types.
- No requirement for an environmental assessment when under 10 meters in height and over 1000 watts (this an FCC requirement, but the county must enforce it, the code leaves this out).
- No limits on power levels other than the extremely high “safe” limits the FCC has set.
- No required 3rd party onsite verification that power levels before or after the installation are within the FCC “safe” limits, just a statement of compliance from a “qualified” person chosen by the wireless company who is not required to physically test.
- No requirement to take into account the cumulative power levels of multiple EMF sources (this is an FCC rule, but it’s not in the code).
- No gap in coverage requirement.
- No proof of completing a NEPA checklist or that the site is FCC licensed (except with Macro towers).
And many more issues with the language of the code and lack of detail or proper direction for county staff.
The code allows rampant proliferation of wireless facilities throughout our county with little to no recourse for citizens beyond going to court. During the months or years in court, the antenna in your front or side yard will be up and operational. Whether you support additional wireless or not, this is a removal of due process for citizens and an elimination of local control on wireless placement. We can change this if we work together and let the county hear our voice.
Thank you for your support, please forward to your friends, families, and co-workers in Thurston County and encourage them to take action.–Thurston County Citizens for a Sensible Wireless Code