Bell’s Towers Bill Sent to 2023 Assembly Session

Sen. John J. Bell (D-13)’s controversial bill to give wireless communications companies broad leeway in where they can put their towers has been sent to the 2023 General Assembly session at his request.

Bell’s Senate Bill 255 would, in effect, have given those companies free reign to build towers up to 200 feet high almost anywhere, overriding local government’s role in those decisions. Local governments would be required to automatically approve any application to build a cell tower up to 200 feet high so long as it either “provides additional wireless coverage or capacity for first responders”—which some Loudoun leaders warned would apply to essentially every cell tower—or is at least four miles away from other towers. The only exception would be in historic districts.

The bill’s provision had been trimmed back to 150 feet and given a sunset date of July 1, 2024 then passed out of committee 9-6, including a yes vote from Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31). But once it reached the Senate floor it was sent back to the Committee on Local Government where on Monday morning Bell asked it be sent to next year’s session.

“We did some deeper diving and found a couple other issues that might be problematic, so I’ve worked with the chair of the Broadband Commission, Sen. [Jennifer B.] Boysko (D-33), and we’re going to study that over the year,” Bell told the committee.

The bill emerged in reaction to a decision by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors last year to deny an application from AT&T to build a cell tower on top of Short Hill Mountain, citing county comprehensive plan language specifically prohibiting putting those towers on ridgelines. The application drew sustained outcry and resistance from residents in the Lovettsville area, which looks up at Short Hill Mountain. Bell had threatened that if the Loudoun board did not side with AT&T on the application he would seek state-level action.

The resulting bill faced opposition from local government and conservation groups alike.

The Senate Committee on Local Government voted unanimously Jan. 31 to continue the bill to 2023.

9 thoughts on “Bell’s Towers Bill Sent to 2023 Assembly Session

  • 2022-01-31 at 2:37 pm
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    this man is mad. Stop this now. We don’t need phone companies running our lives any more than they do. It should be “we” the people who decide where these hiddeous towers go. Someone needs to check into this guys bank accounts and see what is driving him. Clearly it is not common sense.

  • 2022-01-31 at 3:12 pm
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    Of the nine (9) “Yeas,” seven (7) were from (D) Senators.

    The (D) party has completely lost touch.

  • 2022-01-31 at 3:20 pm
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    Not going to forget Bazooka Johnny. Loudoun is blessed with some particularly bad polticans and their unhinged, self serving, extreme policies. John Bell is one of the worst in a field overflowing with really bad policy makers.

  • 2022-01-31 at 4:11 pm
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    Kudos to Senator Bell & Senator Boysko for sending that bill back to the drawing board. In its current form, the bill has the potential to cause too much trouble. Loudoun is blessed with magnificent vistas. To have unsightly cell towers mar those views would be sacrilegious. Happy Lunar New Year Loudoun!

    • 2022-02-01 at 10:13 am
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      Did you actually read the story?

      Happy Reading Comprehension Day, Loudoun!

  • 2022-01-31 at 4:23 pm
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    I have a new phrase for anything this traitorous Democrat proposes…Bell$#!+.

  • 2022-01-31 at 9:58 pm
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    Hopefully this will get killed in the House. At least we know which Democrat Senators have been bought and paid for by big business. If Democrats knew the meaning of “shame” these nine would be ashamed. I wonder if Bell will now start appearing in AT&T ads?

  • 2022-02-01 at 9:06 am
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    Towers are commercial applications so how does this make sense in residential zones?
    Towers are highly concentrated emitters of ionized radiation making their positioning next to schools where children are present for OSHA regulated periods of time per day so how does that make sense for the safety of children?
    So if these two questions are even remotely worthy of consideration who will parents be allowed to sue if their child gets cancer? Who will landowners be able to sue if their residential property value is lowered as their home is being sprayed with radiation all day and all night long?
    Why don’t the people who represent Northern Virginia counties try to get Dulles Airport put back under Virginia control so property taxes can be collected from the highly profitable MWAA parking lots instead of these type of schemes? How about getting the composite index dropped too?

  • 2022-02-05 at 10:12 pm
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    Erect towers around St. Louis. The BoS is going to infringe on individuals property rights and limit development.

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