By David Norlin
Picture Salina with a newly-sprouted forest of ugly communications towers, lattice bare-metal structures with supporting wires in every direction, stark against the Kansas sunset, spoiling the view in every direction. Now imagine the same in our other picturesque area towns, marring the landscape till we look like some third-world country where roaming robber barons impose their will with no fear of retribution or regulation.
It might not get that bad. But you have less say in the matter than a year ago.
Our Kansas legislature has been at work.
Cities can no longer: Require companies to demonstrate a “technological need” for a wireless facility; dismiss tower applications when there are other, preferable tower locations available; insist that towers allow tower space for other potential providers; impose any requirement for more pleasing, less intrusive appearance of those towers (most towers in Salina are monopoles with no guy wires and many are somehow screened or landscaped); and finally, withhold tower approval within “a reasonable period of time,” if the city deems the application incomplete.
Our Ledge has hamstrung and hogtied our local city/county governments in many other ways. Among them, laws which prevent cities or counties from: Regulating or prohibiting canvassing, polling, or soliciting private residences; regulating food nutrition information or consumer incentives for restaurants or vending machines; establishing minimum work hours or pay if work schedules change; regulating or licensing Uber-like ride services; inspecting potentially dangerous or harmful home interiors, without occupant consent; regulating or prohibiting retail sale of guns in residential neighborhoods; etc.
The point is not so much whether such regulation is necessary or desirable. The point is that your local government, where your voice is more likely to be heard, has been muzzled. You can get heard all you want. The City or County can do little or nothing about it.
Senate or House candidates often use “freedom” in their pitch. You should ask, “Whose freedom?” You’re still free to cast your vote. But you do us all a disservice if your vote results in an uncontrollable forest of ugly.
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