- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Two Indiana cities are rushing to maintain control of where wireless equipment can be placed.

The South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/2oENTxF ) reports that a plan approved by the Legislature will allow telecommunications companies to place equipment without a permit from local government. The legislation is awaiting Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signature.

The plan allows local governments to regulate the placement of the structures in areas they have designated for underground utilities. The deadline for designating those areas is May 1.

South Bend and Mishawaka are considering resolutions designating underground utility areas. Officials in both cities say they support the technology but want to retain some placement control for safety and aesthetics.

Sen. Brandt Hershman of Lafayette, who authored the bill, said preventing local government from imposing fees and limitations on small-cell technology will encourage telecommunications investment.

Rep. Ryan Dvorak of South Bend said the technology can roll out just as smoothly with local government regulation.

“It’s all about money,” Dvorak said. “They just don’t want to spend money on installations that aren’t hideously ugly. Generally (the structures) are very ugly and people don’t like antennae and utility sheds all over the place, but the utility companies don’t want to pay for other options that might be less objectionable.”

South Bend resident Kate Bergan said the wireless equipment installed on a new pole next to her home has a cooling mechanism so loud that it keeps her awake at night.

“It’s a nuisance,” Bergan said. “It should be in a place that’s not residential.”

Hershman said Thursday he was “shocked” by the response to the bill, calling it “ridiculous and short-sighted.” Similar concerns were raised in 2006 in response to Hershman’s bill deregulating cable TV and none of those worries came to fruition, he said.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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