and Development in Your Community
How Can OMNNI Help?
OMNNI's certified planning staff is available to assist you with planning, zoning, grant application, specialty research and other services to make your job easier. We understand that in this rapidly changing environment, your staff may need assistance from time to time with special projects or simply to keep things moving forward. What follows is a description of services available from OMNNI to meet your needs.
Ordinance and Administrative Services
At OMNNI, we understand the importance of effective zoning to protect public health, safety and welfare. More importantly, we understand that not all zoning issues are black and white. From time to time expert assistance is needed to review zoning applications and make recommendations for Planning Commission action. Our planners pride themselves on their ability to help client communities make defensible decisions. Our planners can provide you with a needed second opinion or we are prepared to handle applications on your behalf.
OMNNI's zoning administration services include:
Much has been debated and many ideas have been proposed for dealing with the reduction in the Wisconsin shared revenue program. For local governments, a reduction in a major source of revenue provides both an opportunity and a challenge to become more efficient in providing public services. Many communities have begun to work with their neighbors and share resources to reduce costs. Others have combined or eliminated staff positions. Still, others are taking a closer look at how they purchase equipment and services.
Finding new ways for local government to reduce costs without compromising service is a challenge, however, there are some options available that can help. One effective option, a Capital Improvements Program and Budget (CIP&B), allows a community to prepare for the future in an efficient, well-planned and cost-effective manner.
A CIP&B is a tool for understanding your major capital project needs by planning and budgeting for their implementation. This proactive approach can help your community focus more clearly on local priorities by directing funds to the programs and projects that best meet your needs and resources. Typical projects that fall into the capital expenditure category are: buildings, major equipment (e.g., fire trucks), roads, land purchases and park development.
A CIP&B identifies capital needs for a five to six-year period. These needs (or projects) are developed and prioritized by evaluating the remaining useful life of existing capital equipment and facilities and projecting future needs. A Capital Improvements Budget includes both project expenditures and revenue sources. The first year of the budget becomes this year's operating budget. At the end of the first year, another year is added to the CIP&B. The result is a continuous five to six-year budget that can be adjusted based on changing priorities, available funding, and new projects or programs.
There are many benefits that can be derived from a CIP&B, including:
"How can we promote desired residential development while preserving our high-quality natural resources?"
In developing a Comprehensive "Smart Growth" Plan that effectively blends growth and preservation, two specific plan elements come into play - Land Use and Agriculture, Natural & Cultural Resources. These elements define residential growth areas and preservation areas, while also establishing the visions, policies and programs to implement the plan. There are many ways for a community to provide for residential development while also protecting land from development. Options include developing zoning ordinances, establishing conservancy areas, and the use of "overlay" zones.
Another method for preserving land that is
receiving renewed attention is the use of Conservation Subdivisions for
new development. Conservation Subdivisions strike a balance between new
development and preservation. In a Conservation Subdivision, residences
are clustered on smaller lots surrounded by
of Conservation Subdivision design include:
I recently attended a planning
workshop about cellular towers and the issues communities face with
respect to their location, height, and visual impact. I know this is
an issue many communities struggle with. Let me share with you a few
of the things I learned at the workshop that you may want to consider
before the next tower application comes to your community.
Background. The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated the cellular communications industry in an effort to foster competition between providers. The principal goal of the Act is to establish competitive networks of cellular service across the country. Under Section 704 of the Act, local governments do have the power to regulate the placement, construction and modification of personal wireless facilities, as long as the rules do not unreasonably discriminate between providers or prohibit service.
Coverage areas vary with topography, tower height, and frequency. When cellular phones and pagers first became popular, analog towers could provide coverage up to a five-mile radius of the tower. Today, new digital technologies, PCS, and the wireless Internet operate at higher frequencies than the older analog towers. This increased frequency reduces the coverage radius. As a result, there is a need for more towers to serve the same area.
Cellular communication carriers must have licenses from the FCC to build a cellular coverage network (i.e. towers). Currently, there are seven licensed carriers in Wisconsin. Since each carrier's network started at a different location in the country, their coverage needs (i.e. desired tower locations) are usually different in each community. As a result, simply providing cellular coverage in your community is not enough; communities must accommodate networks of competing carriers licensed in your area. The result is often additional towers in many locations to meet the particular location needs of individual carriers. Ultimately, the number of towers in your community will depend on the demand for service, topography, frequency, tower height, and requirements you may enforce related to co-location, stealth technologies, etc.
Probably the most common method for addressing towers is a local zoning ordinance. In the years since the Telecommunication Act was approved, communities across the country have drafted detailed ordinances, which include specific height, separation distance, materials (lattice, monopole, guyed), and co-location requirements. As technologies change, it is important that these ordinances are periodically reviewed and updated to ensure that the requirements are still practical and provide opportunities for innovations like stealth technologies.
Plans (regional, master, comprehensive) are another important tool to regulate towers. The Smart Growth Comprehensive Planning Law actually defines telecommunications facilities as a component of the Utilities and Community Facilities Element. Tower issues will also likely be addressed in the Land Use and Intergovernmental elements of Smart Growth Comprehensive Plans.
OMNNI Can Assist You. A combination of quality zoning and planning tools are critical to protect your community's character. These tools will help you to make decisions about the quantity, location, height, and style of towers in your community. If you'd like to discuss how you can address this issue, give us a call at (800) 571-6677.