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BEND, OR-Deschutes County is currently processing nine applications for cell towers, and new regulations to control their dispersal that would delve into tower visibility, camouflaging, height and other issues. It may be too little too late, however.

The Deschutes County Planning Commission is asking county commissioners to consider a moratorium on cell towers–aka wireless telecommunications facilities–to prevent any additional applications from being processed until the new code is adopted. Legally, though, the county must give the Department of Land Conservation and Development 45 days notice to consider the moratorium. That window will give communications companies plenty of time to flood the city with additional applications that would be “grandfathered” under the old rules. Even without the moratorium, companies have some time to get their applications in under the wire. A public hearing on the revised code is scheduled for Nov. 16, and a new ordinance wouldn’t be passed until early December at the soonest.

American Tower Corp. is behind four of the nine pending applications for the 150-foot tall towers. Two of its applications, for a tower in an exclusive farm use zone and another in a surface mining zone, are scheduled for a public hearing this week. Staff is recommending both applications be denied because the county’s existing ordinance does not allow companies to build cell towers unless it has a lease agreement with an FCC-approved service provider. American Tower Corp. says it has letters of intent, and that should suffice.

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