Prior to the adoption of Ord. 21095 on 09/19/2011, Section 29-21.3 read as follows.

    (a)    Purpose.  The purpose of this section is to:

(1)    Provide for the appropriate location and development of communications facilities and systems to serve the citizens and businesses of the City.

(2)    Minimize adverse visual impacts of communications antennas and towers through careful design, siting, landscape screening and innovative camouflaging techniques.

(3)    Protect residential areas/land uses from potential adverse impacts of towers.

(4)    Maximize the use of existing and new towers so as to minimize the need to construct new or additional facilities.

(5)    Maximize and encourage the use of disguised support structures and antenna support structures so as to ensure the architectural integrity of designated areas within the City and the scenic quality of protected natural habitats.

(6)    To promote and encourage shared use/co-location of towers as a primary option rather than construction of additional towers.

    (b)    Definitions.  As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings and usages indicated:

Antenna.  Any device that transmits or receives radio frequency signals for voice, data or video communications purposes including, but not limited to, television, AM/FM radio, microwave, cellular telephone and similar forms of communications.  The term shall exclude satellite earth station antennas less than six feet in diameter and any receive-only home television antennas.

Antenna Support Structure.  Any building or other structure such as a water tower, other than a tower or a disguised support structure as herein defined, which can be used for the location of telecommunications facilities.

Communications Equipment Cabinet.  A structure for the protection and security of communications equipment associated with one or more antennas where direct access to equipment is provided from the exterior.

Communications Equipment Shelter.  A building for the protection and security of communications equipment associated with one or more antennas and where access to equipment is gained from the interior of the building.

Disguised Support Structure.  Any freestanding, man made structure used for the support of communications antennas, the presence of which is camouflaged or concealed as an architectural or natural feature.  Such structures may include but are not limited to clock towers, campaniles, observation towers, light standards, flag poles and artificial trees.

FAA.  The Federal Aviation Administration.

FCC.  The Federal Communications Commission.

Height.  The vertical distance measured from the base of the structure at ground level to its highest point and including the main structure and all attachments thereto.

Tower.  A structure designed for the support of one or more antennas including guyed towers, self-supporting (lattice) towers or monopoles but not disguised support structures or antenna support structures as herein defined.  The term shall not include any support structure owned and operated by an amateur radio operator licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.

    (c)     Permitted Uses. The following uses shall be permitted in any zoning district subject to the issuance of a building permit by the public works community development department, provided that drawings and other documentation are submitted showing compliance with paragraph (f) of this section:



(1)    The attachment of additional or replacement antennas to any tower; or, the addition of communications equipment shelters or cabinets to any tower site existing on December 15, 1997 or subsequently approved in accordance with these regulations.

(2)    The mounting of antennas on any existing antenna support structure. This shall not include the mounting of antennas on signs.

(3)    The installation of antennas or towers on structures or land owned by the City, following approval by the City Council.

(4)    The one-time replacement or modification (on the same site) of any tower existing on December 15, 1997 so long as the purpose of the replacement is to accommodate shared use of the tower or to eliminate a safety hazard.  The height of the new tower may exceed that of the original by not more than 20 feet.

The following use shall be permitted in any zoning district other than zoning districts A-1, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, RMH and PUD subject to the issuance of a building permit by the public works community development department, provided that drawings and other documentation are submitted showing compliance with paragraph (f) of this section:

    (1)    The construction of a disguised support structure provided that all related equipment shall be placed underground or concealed within the structure.

The requirements of this section shall take precedence over those of the underlying Zoning District.

(d)     Appeals. Appeals from the denial of a building permit, by the director of public works community development , under subsection (c), when the denial is based on failure to comply with the provisions of this section, shall be made to the board of adjustment. Any decision of the board of adjustment upholding a decision to deny a building permit under subsection (c) shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in the written record.

(e)    Conditional Uses.  It is the policy of the City of Columbia to minimize the number of towers and to encourage the co-location of antennas of more than one wireless communications service provider on a single tower.

Construction of new communications towers or any alteration of a communications tower not covered under subsection (c) above shall be allowed in all zoning districts except for A-1, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, RMH & PUD only after the issuance of a conditional use permit.

Construction of disguised support structures shall be allowed in zoning districts A-1, R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, RMH and PUD only after the issuance of a conditional use permit.

(1)    Applications for conditional use permits shall be filed and processed in the manner established in section 29-23.   In addition, the application shall also include the following:

a.    The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all owners (including the applicant) of other towers or disguised support structures which are capable of providing a location to construct the telecommunications facilities that are planned to be housed or located on the tower within the City of Columbia and within one half mile of the City limits of the City of Columbia.

b.    Written documentation that the applicant made diligent but unsuccessful efforts for permission to install or co-locate the applicant’s telecommunications facilities on City-owned towers or antenna support structures.

c.    Written documentation that the applicant made diligent but unsuccessful efforts to install or co-locate the applicant’s telecommunications facilities on towers or useable antenna support structures owned by other persons.

d.    Written documentation stating whether the applicant’s telecommunications facilities are technically capable of being installed or co-located on another person’s tower or support structure.

e.    If the applicant asserts that its antenna or other facilities are technically infeasible of being installed or co-located on another person’s tower or support structure, a written statement from the applicant setting forth in detail the reason(s) with regard to each person contacted, why such installation or co-location is technically or economically infeasible.

f.    If the tower is designed to accommodate one or more additional carriers, the application shall designate the nature of the co-location that will be accommodated.

g.    A site plan drawn to scale specifying the location of the tower, its planned height, guy anchors (if any), equipment shelters and cabinets, parking layout, landscaping, screening and the zoning designation of the site.

Items a through g above shall be certified as to accuracy by a professional engineer.

(2)    In rendering its decision on a conditional use permit request, the Board of Adjustment shall consider the following:

a.    Whether or not existing towers are located within the geographic area necessary to meet the applicant’s engineering requirements.

b.    Whether or not existing towers, structures or buildings within the applicant’s required geographic area are of sufficient height to meet system engineering requirements.

c.    Whether or not existing towers or structures have sufficient structural strength to support the applicant’s proposed antennas.

d.    Whether or not the fees, costs, or other contractual terms required by the owner(s) of existing tower(s), structure(s) or building(s) within the required geographic area of the applicant or to retrofit the existing tower(s) or structure(s) are reasonable.

e.    Whether or not there are other limiting conditions that render existing towers, structures or buildings within the applicant’s required geographic area unsuitable.

f.    Whether or not the proposal minimizes the number and size of towers or structures that will be required in the area.

g.    Whether or not the applicant has previously failed to take advantage of available shared use opportunities provided by this section or otherwise.

h.    Whether or not the applicant has provided sufficient evidence indicating that the tower will be made available for use by others, subject to reasonable technical limitations and reasonable financial terms.

(3)      Written record.  Any decision to deny a request to construct or alter a tower shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in the written record.        

(f)    General Requirements.  The requirements set forth in this section shall be applicable to all antenna towers installed, built or altered after December 15, 1997 to the full extent permitted by law.

(1)    Regulatory Compliance.  All antennas and towers shall meet or exceed current standards and regulations of the FAA, FCC and any other state or federal agency with the authority to regulate communications antennas and towers.  Should such standards or regulations be amended, then the owner shall bring such devises and structures into compliance with the revised standards or regulations within the time period mandated by the controlling agency.

(2)    Security.  All antennas and towers shall be protected from unauthorized access by appropriate security devices.  A description of proposed security measures shall be provided as part of any application to install, build or alter antennas or towers.  Additional measures may be required as deemed necessary by the Board of Adjustment in the case of a conditional use permit.


(3)    Lighting.  Antennas and towers shall not be lighted unless required by the FAA or other state or federal agency with authority to regulate, in which case a description of the required lighting scheme will be made a part of the application to install, build or alter the antenna or tower. Strobe lights shall not be used unless required by the FAA or other state or federal agency with authority to regulate.

(4)    Advertising.  Placement of advertising on structures regulated by this section is prohibited.

(5)    Height.  The height of a tower shall be governed by the underlying zoning district; however, when rendering its decision on a conditional use permit for a new tower, the Board of Adjustment may allow an increase in height as it deems appropriate.

(6)    Design.

a.    Towers shall maintain a galvanized steel finish or, subject to the requirements of the FAA or any applicable state or federal agency, be painted a neutral color consistent with the natural or built environment of the site.

b.    Equipment shelters, cabinets and guy anchors shall be screened from view by a permanent screen consisting of a masonry wall, wood fence, landscaping material, or combination thereof, at least eight (8) feet in height.  The required screening shall have an opacity of eighty (80) percent year around and, if landscaping is used, the eighty (80) percent opacity and eight-foot minimum height shall be achieved within four (4) full growing seasons.

c.    All towers shall meet the setback and yard requirements of the applicable zoning district.  In addition, all towers shall be separated from any off-site residential structure, or the boundary of any residentially-zoned property, a distance equal to the height of the tower.

d.    Ground anchors of all guyed towers shall be located on the same parcel as the tower and meet the setbacks of the applicable zoning district.

e.    On-site parking for periodic maintenance and service shall be provided at all tower locations (except for District C-2).

f.    The horizontal dimensions of a communications equipment cabinet shall not exceed four feet by six feet.

g.    Materials or equipment which is not in direct support of an antenna shall not be stored in a shelter.

(g)     Obsolete tower structures and antennas. Any tower or disguised support structure which is not occupied by active antennas for a period of twelve (12) months or any antenna which is not used for a period of twelve (12) months shall be removed at the owner's expense. The director of public works community development is authorized to order the owner of any private property to remove any unused tower or antenna on the owner's property within a reasonable time specified by the director. The order shall require the tower or antenna to be removed unless the owner, within ten (10) days of receipt of the order, appeals the matter to the board of adjustment pursuant to section 29-31. If the board finds that a tower has not been occupied by active antennas for twelve (12) months or an antenna has not been used for twelve (12) months, it shall order the tower or antenna to be removed within a specified time.

If the unused tower or antenna is not removed as specified in an unappealed order of the director of public works community development or as specified by the board of adjustment, the director of public works community development may cause the tower or antenna to be removed. The director of public works community development shall submit the actual cost of such removal to the owner of the property. If the owner does not pay the cost within thirty (30) days of receipt, the director of public works community development shall certify the cost to the director of finance who shall cause a special tax bill against the property to be prepared and collected. The tax bill shall be due and payable from the date of issuance and shall be a lien on the property from the date of issuance until paid. Tax bills issued pursuant to this section shall bear interest from the date of issuance at the rate of nine (9) per cent per annum.


(h)    Commercial Operation of Unlawful Towers Or Antennas.  Not withstanding any right that may exist for a governmental entity to operate or construct a tower or structure, it shall be unlawful for any person to erect or operate for any private commercial purpose any new antenna, tower or disguised support structure in violation of any provision of this section regardless of whether such antenna or structure is located on land belonging to a governmental entity.

(Ord. No. 15471, § 1, 1-5-98)