PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Planning Commission has agreed to recommend changes to the county’s wireless communications facilities ordinance after several discussions about how it would relate to the implementation of 5G in unincorporated Clallam County.
While the county’s current ordinance permits the implementation of 5G technology and any regulations that would effectively prohibit the technology would be a violation of federal law, the amendment as recommended Wednesday would make the permitting process more difficult and adds aesthetic considerations.
“There isn’t any area that has been changed that makes it easier for an application to be processed,” said Principal Planner Kevin LoPiccolo.
The Planning Commission agreed to recommend the changes to the Board of County Commissioners in a five-to-one vote.
Connie Beauvais, Tom Montgomery, Steve Gale, Gary Gleason, Leo Leonard, and Robert Miller voted in favor of the changes while Jane Hielman dissented. Scott Clausen was not present.
The ordinance primarily addresses tower placement and the permitting process and does not specifically mention 5G. It also does not specifically mention 4G, 3G or 2G technologies.
A new technology, 5G uses microcells for wireless networks. It promises faster speeds when connecting to the network and the ability to connect many devices to the internet without bogging it down.
“I think we all have our own concerns, but I think I speak for the group when I say we’re not willing to put this county in a position where it might be sued because of an action we take,” Beauvais said.
“I feel like we are pushing the boundary of the law with a couple things we are leaving in here, but I’m willing to take that chance. I really think we’ve done the best we can with this ordinance in revising it.”
As Beauvais explained that 5G technology is moving forward regardless of what action the Planning Commission takes, a woman in the audience interrupted her.
“It is way too late to insist that this technology be stopped,” Beauvais said. “We can’t stop it now … but what we can ask … is that more study be done on the effects.”
Among those regulations she said is “pushing the boundary” is a section that says new support towers shall be a minimum of 1,000 feet from all parcels containing K-12 public and private schools.
In many instances wireless communication facilities now require Type II review instead of Type I, while new support towers located outside of the commercial forest and commercial/mixed use 20 zones will need to go before the hearing examiner.
In addition to an existing provision that requires the owner/operator of each wireless communications facility to submit annual written verification that the radio frequency radiation/electromagnetic frequency emitted by a facility conforms to FCC regulations is a provision that requires verification when a new wireless communication facility is being installed.
Hielman, the lone vote against the changes, said she is extremely divided over the issue.
Hielman said she has lived, taught and worked “with the unseen disability of toxic overload, toxic food, energetic abuse” all her life and that she is thankful to a “core group.”
Hielman said she has deep concerns about lack of transparency, “opening up the population with nature and wellbeing in our center to unacceptable dangers both now and into the future.
“I am relieved that the information dealing the underlying motivation has been revealed by a core group and encourage those actions to continue at a level not accessible by the county or the commission.”
She said she cannot have 4G on in the same room as her and that she cannot support “electronics and communication going beyond normal human bounds.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].