Title 17C Land Use Standards
Chapter 17C.355A Wireless Communication Facilities
The following criteria shall be applied in approving, approving with conditions or denying a WCF. Unless otherwise provided in this chapter, WCF construction shall be consistent with the development standards of the zoning district in which it is located.
Height. Refer to SMC Tables 17C.355A-1 and 2.
Setback Requirements. Refer to SMC Tables 17C.355A-1 and 2 for towers. All equipment shelters, cabinets or other on-the-ground ancillary equipment shall be buried or meet the setback requirement of the zone in which located. Notwithstanding the setbacks provided for in Tables 17C.355A-1 and 2, when a residence is located on an adjacent parcel, the minimum side setback from the lot line for a new tower must be equal to the height of the proposed tower, unless:
The setback is waived by the owner of the residence; or
The tower is constructed with breakpoint design technology. If the tower has been constructed using breakpoint design technology, the minimum setback distance shall be equal to 110 percent (110%) of the distance from the top of the structure to the breakpoint level of the structure, or the applicable zone’s minimum side setback requirements, whichever is greater. (For example, on a 100-foot tall monopole with a breakpoint at eighty  feet, the minimum setback distance would be twenty-two  feet [110 percent of twenty (20) feet, the distance from the top of the monopole to the breakpoint] or the minimum side yard setback requirements for that zone, whichever is greater.) Provided, that if an applicant proposes to use breakpoint design technology to reduce the required setback from a residence, the issuance of building permits for the tower shall be conditioned upon approval of the tower design by a structural engineer.
Landscaping. All landscaping shall be installed and maintained in accordance with this chapter. Existing on-site vegetation shall be preserved to the greatest extent reasonably possible and/or improved, and disturbance of the existing topography shall be minimized. The director may grant a waiver from the required landscaping based on findings that a different requirement would better serve the public interest.
Tower bases, when fenced (compounds), or large equipment shelters (greater than three feet by three feet by three feet), shall be landscaped following the provisions of this section. In all residential, O, OR, NR, NMU, CC, CA, CB, GC, Downtown, and other commercial zones, landscaping shall consist of a six-foot wide strip of L2 landscaping as described in SMC 17C.200.030. Street Frontage and perimeter property landscaping where required shall follow standards set forth in SMC 17C.200.040 Site Planting Standards.
If fencing is installed, it shall consist of decorative masonry or wood fencing. Chain link is not allowed in residential, O, OR, NR, NMU, CC, and CA zones, except that in a CB and GC zone up to 3 strands of barbed wire may be placed atop a lawful fence exceeding six feet in height above grade. In Downtown and industrial zones, three strands of barbed wire may be placed atop a lawful fence if the fence is not visible from an adjacent street or is placed behind a sight-obscuring fence or wall. Electrified fences are not permitted in any zone. Razor or concertina wire is not allowed.
Applicant shall meet the irrigation requirements of SMC 17C.200.100 where feasible and ensure the full establishment of plantings for two years in accordance with SMC 17C.200.090.
Visual Impact. All WCFs in residential zones and within 150 feet of residential zones, including equipment enclosures, shall be sited and designed to minimize adverse visual impacts on surrounding properties and the traveling public to the greatest extent reasonably possible, consistent with the proper functioning of the WCF. Such WCFs and equipment enclosures shall be integrated through location and design to blend in with the existing characteristics of the site. Such WCFs shall also be designed to either resemble the surrounding landscape and other natural features where located in proximity to natural surroundings, or be compatible with the urban, built environment, through matching and complimentary existing structures and specific design considerations such as architectural designs, height, scale, color and texture, and/or be consistent with other uses and improvements permitted in the relevant zone.
Use of Stealth Design/Technology. The applicant shall make an affirmative showing as to why they are not employing stealth technology. More specifically:
Stealth design is required in residential zones and to the extent shown in Tables A-1 and A-2. Stealth and concealment techniques must be appropriate given the proposed location, design, visual environment, and nearby uses, structures, and natural features. Stealth design shall be designed and constructed to substantially conform to surrounding building designs or natural settings, so as to be visually unobtrusive. Stealth design that relies on screening wireless communications facilities in order to reduce visual impact must screen all substantial portions of the facility from view. Stealth and concealment techniques do not include incorporating faux-tree designs of a kind that are not native to the Pacific Northwest.
Lighting. For new wireless communication support towers, only such lighting as is necessary to satisfy FAA requirements is permitted. All FAA-required lighting shall use lights that are designed to minimize downward illumination. Security lighting for the equipment shelters or cabinets and other on-the-ground ancillary equipment is also permitted as long as it is down shielded to keep light within the boundaries of the site. Motion detectors for security lighting are encouraged in residential, O and OR zones or adjacent to residences.
Noise. At no time shall transmission equipment or any other associated equipment (including, but not limited to, heating and air conditioning units) at any wireless communication facility emit noise that exceeds the applicable limit(s) established in SMC 10.08D.070.
Signage. No facilities may bear any signage or advertisement(s) other than signage required by law or expressly permitted/required by the City.
Code compliance. All facilities shall at all times comply with all applicable federal, State and local building codes, electrical codes, fire codes and any other code related to public health and safety.
1. In residential zones, all transmission equipment shall be concealed within existing architectural features to the maximum extent feasible. Any new architectural features proposed to conceal the transmission equipment shall be designed to mimic the existing underlying structure, shall be proportional to the existing underlying structure or conform to the underlying use and shall use materials in similar quality, finish, color and texture as the existing underlying structure.
2. In residential zones, all roof-mounted transmission equipment shall be set back from all roof edges to the maximum extent feasible.
3. In all other zones, antenna arrays and supporting transmission equipment shall be installed so as to camouflage, disguise or conceal them to make them closely compatible with and blend into the setting and/or host structure.
WCFs in the public rights-of-way.
Preferred locations. Facilities shall be located as far from residential uses as feasible, and on main corridors and arterials to the extent feasible. Facilities in the rights-of-way shall maintain at least a two hundred (200) foot separation from other wireless facilities (except with respect to DAS or Small Cells), except when collocated or on opposite sides of the same street.
Pole-mounted or tower-mounted equipment. All pole-mounted and tower-mounted transmission equipment shall be mounted as close as possible to the pole or tower so as to reduce the overall visual profile to the maximum extent feasible. All pole-mounted and tower-mounted transmission equipment shall be painted with flat, non-reflective colors that blend with the visual environment.
For all WCFs to be located within the right-of-way, prior to submitting for a building permit, the applicant must have a valid municipal master permit, municipal franchise, or exemption otherwise granted by applicable law, to the extent consistent with RCW 35.21.860.
Accessory Equipment. In residential zones, all equipment shall be located or placed in an existing building, underground, or in an equipment shelter that is (a) designed to blend in with existing surroundings, using architecturally compatible construction and colors; and (b) located so as to be unobtrusive as possible consistent with the proper functioning of the WCF.
Spacing of Towers. Towers shall maintain a minimum spacing of one-half mile, unless it can be demonstrated that physical limitations (such as topography, terrain, tree cover or location of buildings) in the immediate service area prohibit adequate service by the existing facilities or that collocation is not feasible under SMC 17C.355A.050.
Site Design Flexibility. Individual WCF sites vary in the location of adjacent buildings, existing trees, topography and other local variables. By mandating certain design standards, there may result a project that could have been less intrusive if the location of the various elements of the project could have been placed in more appropriate locations within a given site. Therefore, the WCF and supporting equipment may be installed so as to best camouflage, disguise them, or conceal them, to make the WCF more closely compatible with and blend into the setting and/or host structure, upon approval by the Planning and Economic Development Services Director or the Hearing Examiner, as applicable. The design flexibility allowed under this subsection includes additional height for a tower located within tall trees on (i) City property or (ii) other parcels at least 5 acres in size, so that the impact of the tower may be minimized by the trees while still allowing for the minimum clearance needed for the tower to achieve the applicant’s coverage objectives. A formal exception from standards under SMC 17C.355A.090 is not required for proposals meeting this subsection by being a less intrusive design option.
Structural Assessment. The owner of a proposed tower shall have a structural assessment of the tower conducted by a professional engineer, licensed in the State of Washington, which shall be submitted with the application for a building permit.
Date Passed: Monday, November 2, 2015
Effective Date: Monday, November 2, 2015
ORD C35312 Section 2