House Bill Eases Path for New Cellphone Towers

May 6, 2015

A bill to make it easier for cellphone companies to put up new towers passed the Iowa House today on a largely party-line vote.  

The bill would create uniform statewide standards cities and counties would have to follow, including limiting the time they could take to approve a new tower.  

Boone Republican Chip Baltimore says dealing with different local rules slows things down for cellphone companies.

“It’s an attempt to expedite the application process,” Baltimore says, “and then also make sure that cities and counties are not second-guessing business decisions.”

“Frankly, I don’t want to second-guess citizens,”   replies Coralville Democrat Dave Jacoby.    

Jacoby says the bill ignores the rights of adjacent landowners and prevents cities from considering the quality of a company’s service before signing off on a tower application.  

Backers say the bill would encourage more cellphone coverage across the state. Critics say the bill would tie the hands of local governments for approving new towers inside and outside city limits.    Boone Republican Chip Baltimore says cellphone companies now have to follow different rules from one community to another.

 “I think that that is just challenging when we're trying to build a statewide communications network,”  Baltimore says.

Critics say the bill would tie the hands of local governments

“I’m concerned that local governments lose their voice,” says Davenport Democrat Cindy Winkler. 

Critics say the bill keeps too much information about the application private and prevents cities from recommending alternate locations for towers.   

Similar legislation failed in the Iowa Senate last year.