North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 160A. Cities and Towns § 160A-400.55. Use of public right-of-way

<Text of section eff. until Jan. 1, 2021.>

(a) A city shall not enter into an exclusive arrangement with any person for use of city rights-of-way for the construction, operation, marketing, or maintenance of wireless facilities or wireless support structures or the collocation of small wireless facilities.

(b) Subject to the requirements of G.S. 160A-400.54 , a wireless provider may collocate small wireless facilities along, across, upon, or under any city right-of-way.  Subject to the requirements of this section, a wireless provider may place, maintain, modify, operate, or replace associated utility poles, city utility poles, conduit, cable, or related appurtenances and facilities along, across, upon, and under any city right-of-way.  The placement, maintenance, modification, operation, or replacement of utility poles and city utility poles associated with the collocation of small wireless facilities, along, across, upon, or under any city right-of-way shall be subject only to review or approval under subsection (d) of G.S. 160A-400.54 if the wireless provider meets all the following requirements:

(1) Each new utility pole and each modified or replacement utility pole or city utility pole installed in the right-of-way shall not exceed 50 feet above ground level.

(2) Each new small wireless facility in the right-of-way shall not extend more than 10 feet above the utility pole, city utility pole, or wireless support structure on which it is collocated.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a city from allowing utility poles, city utility poles, or wireless facilities that exceed the limits set forth in subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section.

(d) Applicants for use of a city right-of-way shall comply with a city's undergrounding requirements prohibiting the installation of above-ground structures in the city rights-of-way without prior zoning approval, if those requirements (i) are nondiscriminatory with respect to type of utility, (ii) do not prohibit the replacement of structures existing at the time of adoption of the requirements, and (iii) have a waiver process.

(e) Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, in no instance in an area zoned single-family residential where the existing utilities are installed underground may a utility pole, city utility pole, or wireless support structure exceed forty (40) feet above ground level, unless the city grants a waiver or variance approving a taller utility pole, city utility pole, or wireless support structure.

(f) Except as provided in this part, a city may assess a right-of-way charge under this section for use or occupation of the right-of-way by a wireless provider, subject to the restrictions set forth under G.S. 160A-296(a)(6) .  In addition, charges authorized by this section shall meet all of the following requirements:

(1) The right-of-way charge shall not exceed the direct and actual cost of managing the city rights-of-way and shall not be based on the wireless provider's revenue or customer counts.

(2) The right-of-way charge shall not exceed that imposed on other users of the right-of-way, including publicly, cooperatively, or municipally owned utilities.

(3) The right-of-way charge shall be reasonable and nondiscriminatory.

Nothing in this subsection is intended to establish or otherwise affect rates charged for attachments to utility poles, city utility poles, or wireless support structures.  At its discretion, a city may provide free access to city rights-of-way on a nondiscriminatory basis in order to facilitate the public benefits of the deployment of wireless services.

(g) Nothing in this section is intended to authorize a person to place, maintain, modify, operate, or replace a privately owned utility pole or wireless support structure or to collocate small wireless facilities on a privately owned utility pole, a privately owned wireless support structure, or other private property without the consent of the property owner.

(h) A city may require a wireless provider to repair all damage to a city right-of-way directly caused by the activities of the wireless provider, while occupying, installing, repairing, or maintaining wireless facilities, wireless support structures, city utility poles, or utility poles and to return the right-of-way to its functional equivalence before the damage.  If the wireless provider fails to make the repairs required by the city within a reasonable time after written notice, the city may undertake those repairs and charge the applicable party the reasonable and documented cost of the repairs.  The city may maintain an action to recover the costs of the repairs.

(i) This section shall not be construed to limit local government authority to enforce historic preservation zoning regulations consistent with Part 3C of Article 19 of this Chapter, the preservation of local zoning authority under 47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(7) , the requirements for facility modifications under 47 U.S.C. § 1455(a) , or the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, 54 U.S.C. § 300101, et seq., as amended, and the regulations, local acts, and city charter provisions adopted to implement those laws.

(j) A wireless provider may apply to a city to place utility poles in the city rights-of-way, or to replace or modify utility poles or city utility poles in the public rights-of way, to support the collocation of small wireless facilities.  A city shall accept and process the application in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 160A-400.54(d) , applicable codes, and other local codes governing the placement of utility poles or city utility poles in the city rights-of-way, including provisions or regulations that concern public safety, objective design standards for decorative utility poles or city utility poles, or reasonable and nondiscriminatory stealth and concealment requirements, including those relating to screening or landscaping, or public safety and reasonable spacing requirements.  The application may be submitted in conjunction with the associated small wireless facility application.

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