Sidney joins in lawsuit challenging senate bill

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — The city of Sidney will join 42 other Ohio communities in a lawsuit declaring a senate bill that removes the cities’ authority to regulate and control the placement of cell phone towers within the public right-of-way unconstitutional.

Sidney City Council passed a resolution stating the bill violated the home rule provisions of the Ohio Constitution after emerging from an executive session on Monday evening.

At the Jan. 13 city council meeting, Manager Mark Cundiff presented council with information on the senate bill that will become effective in early March. He explained the new law restricts the city from regulating the installation of the antennas and related equipment in the public right of way.

Cundiff told council at the January meeting Verizon Wireless had applied to install two antennas in Sidney; one on Campbell Road in front of Sidney High School, and the other on Fair Road in front of Sidney Middle School. He said while these two installations are not an issue, others could be a problem if located in the historic downtown.

Councilman Joe Ratermann asked Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough at the January meeting if there were any foreseeable negatives consequences, if the city could regulate these installations under the health, safety and welfare regulations, and if they had the power to limit the duration of the project.

Clough said the antennas could potentially have negative consequences because they could be placed in an unpleasing area downtown, and could be put in locations where the city may need that particular right of way in the future. He said the city can only apply health, safety and welfare regulations in a limited manner, and he doesn’t think they have the right to limit the duration. He said once the providers invest the money they are not going to move it without a good reason. He also reported that currently there are four licensed wireless providers able to apply.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.