In an effort to regulate the placement, construction, and modification of wireless communications facilities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the City of Memphis has approved ordinances amending Chapter 405 of the municipal code.

On July 11th, the Memphis City Council voted to implement the ordinance changes to provide for the appropriate location and development of telecommunications facilities and systems to serve the citizens and businesses of the City of Memphis, while at the same time not unreasonably interfering with the development of the competitive wireless telecommunications marketplace in the city.

The new ordinances will seek to minimize adverse visual impacts of wireless communications facilities through careful design, siting, landscape screening, and innovative camouflaging techniques that provide predictability for nearby property owners and others that future uses will not materially alter such approved aesthetic protections without zoning hearing procedures and input from interested parties.

The changes also hopefully will ensure that any new wireless communications facilities are located in an area compatible with the neighborhood or surrounding community to the extent possible.

The ordinance changes establish an application process which requires a detailed site plan indicating the exact location of the proposed facility and all related improvements including buildings, driveways, parking areas, sidewalks and other structures.

Key to the law change are setbacks that prohibit building towers with property in the fall zone.  All support structures, including any portions of any wireless communications facility thereon and associated structures, fences, and walls (except for parking) shall be separated from any public Right-of-Way, sidewalk or street, alley, parking area, playground, or other building, and from the property line of any adjacent property at least a horizontal distance equal to the height of the support structure.

Under the new laws, towers within city limits will be limited to monopole design, as lattice and guyed towers are prohibited. No support structure shall be approved at a height exceeding one 120 feet above ground level unless the applicant clearly demonstrates that such height is required for the proper function of the applicant’s system.

The ordinances require that all towers shall be surrounded by a minimum of a six foot (6’) high decorative wall constructed of brick, stone, or comparable masonry materials and a landscape strip of not less than ten feet (10’) in width and planted with materials, which will provide a visual barrier to a minimum height of six feet (6’).