“Small cells” a big deal for Goose Creek residents in opposition

A small cell placed atop a pole in Columbia.

Smalls cells pose a big problem for several Goose Creek residents.

The Goose Creek City Council approved an ordinance to establish standards for placement of the cells throughout the city. Small cells are antennas placed by wireless providers on telephone poles to increase 5G wireless connection.

The Federal Communications Commission policy prohibits cities from banning small cells. The Municipal Association of South Carolina reported that the FCC doesn’t believe enough private property can be leased to allow construction of small cells, so the commission is in favor of small cells being constructed on public rights of way.

The commission does, however, allot municipalities policing powers. As a compromise, the MASC worked with wireless providers to draft an ordinance that would help Goose Creek guide placement of small cells, as well as other aesthetics. Cities can also regulate wireless facility placement through zoning.

The city unanimously passed the ordinance, stating in jist, the ordinance was the best way to handle the cells that are coming inevitably.

“We’re at a point where 5G is coming. It’s coming whether we like it or not,” said councilmember Corey McClary.

McClary noted that he opposed the first reading of the ordinance, but voted in favor at the last council meeting after doing more research.

Jerry Tekac noted that there's a small cell tower near his residence on Plantation North Boulevard behind Walmart.

The decision did not go over well with residents who still opposed placement of small cells. Joyce Ex, president of the Crowfield Plantation board of directors, wanted city council to abstain from voting on the ordinance. Ex said the small cells “appear to work to (telecom companies’) benefit,” and not residents.

Jeff Whitehead, who said he’s worked in technology business, said he was not opposed to 5G, but did not want his neighborhood “overrun with antennas.”

He added that Goose Creek can still operate without the 5G network. He recommended the city do a small cell pilot program.

Goose Creek mayor Greg Habib said the city’s lawyer, along with the MASC, wrote and reviewed the ordinance.