Last week, the Wireless Bureau released a Public Notice seeking comment on a new program alternative to improve and facilitate the review process for deployments of small wireless communications facilities, such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cell facilities, under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  More specifically, the Public Notice initiates the process of amending the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas to more comprehensively define and limit the review of these small wireless communications facility deployments.

The Section 106 Scoping Document attached to the Public Notice seeks comment on such an amendment and proposes the following additional exclusions for small wireless communications facility collocations:

  • small facility deployments on structures more than 45 years of age where the deployments meet specified volume limits, involve no new ground disturbance, and are not on historic properties or in or near a historic district;
  • small facility deployments located on historic properties or in or near a historic district if they: meet specified size or volume limits; cause no new ground disturbance; meet visibility restrictions; comply in their installation with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards and guidelines for historic preservation; and comply with all conditions on any existing deployment, located within the same vicinity on the same property, that were imposed pursuant to any regulatory or Section 106 review in order to directly mitigate or prevent the facility’s effects; and
  • small facility deployments on historic properties or in or near a historic district, regardless of visibility limitations, in certain limited circumstances such as: deployments of small facilities on utility poles, light posts, and traffic lights; deployments of small facilities in certain locations, such as utility or communications rights-of-way; and replacements or modifications of existing small facilities where the replacements meet specified volume/size limits.

Comments are due by September 28, 2015. There will not be an opportunity to submit reply comments in this proceeding.  This proceeding will be treated as exempt under the Commission’s ex parte rules. Once developed, the Commission will submit the proposed amendment to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and will publish notice in the Federal Register, giving all stakeholders an additional opportunity to comment at this stage.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.