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Nixon signs bill limiting city, county authority on cell tower sites

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Cell phone tower

A worker climbs a cellphone tower in this 2006 file photo.

Cities and counties will have less authority over where and how to erect new cell phone towers under a bill signed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The measure, pushed by the telecommunications industry and opposed by the Missouri Municipal League and St. Charles County government, will restrict what local governments can consider when they decide on proposed towers.  

Cities and counties also will have to act within 120 days on tower applications - a requirement that some local officials say will limit the ability to do a detailed review.

Nixon's office, in a statement Friday, said the bill and a related measure he also signed "will provide the opportunity for expanded access and improved broadband and wireless service through more rapid deployment" of infrastructure.

Among other things, the measure bars local officials from evaluating a tower application based on the availability of other potential locations, including the option of sharing an existing tower.

Cities and counties also will be prohibited from dictating the type of tower structure and from requiring a tower applicant to submit information on quality of service, customer demand and plans for service.

The bill also bans any "unreasonable" landscaping and screening requirements.

The Municipal League had urged Nixon to veto the measure, which also includes other changes in state law on telecommunications. Also opposing the bill was the Missouri Association of Counties.

The Missouri Telecommunications Industry Association has said the bill will allow the industry to improve service more quickly and standardize a sometimes slow and plodding approval process.

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