PLF Takes Zoning to a New Level

Our Carolinas New Builds Zoning team had a very busy and successful year in 2015. In March, we announced the new hire of Associate, Laura Askins Goode to assist with all zoning matters. Mary Miles Rogers, Paralegal and Parker Johnson, Legal Assistant are also members of the Carolinas New Builds Zoning team. In August, we developed a new outline to streamline our process of obtaining zoning approval for a wireless communications facility. Our new process has proven to be successful as we have received positive feedback from the jurisdictions in which we filed applications while simultaneously reducing costs for our clients. In just a few months, we filed over ten (10) zoning applications across the state of North Carolina and three (3) in South Carolina. Our team traveled to many hearings and presented our applications to the boards of local governments. Some of these jurisdictions included: Haywood County, Columbus County, Gaston County, Person County, Cumberland County, Cleveland County, Guilford County, Onslow County, Asheville, Jacksonville, Hendersonville, Shelby, and Monroe in North Carolina and Richland County, Cayce, and Mount Pleasant in South Carolina.

 

We strive to meet and exceed the goals of our clients as well as meet the requirements of each jurisdiction’s ordinance. We have established great relationships with the jurisdictions we have worked with so far through open communication with the planning departments and by presenting thorough application packages which address how the proposed wireless communications facility meets each requirement of the jurisdiction’s ordinance. The experience and relationships we have achieved in several jurisdictions throughout North and South Carolina will benefit our clients in our ability to quickly and efficiently develop applications, anticipate and address any issues early in the application process, and to present the types of information in the application and at hearing which the jurisdiction expects in order to achieve zoning approval.

 

Every jurisdiction and ordinance is different and some of the jurisdictions proved to be more of a challenge than others which required more in depth research of the local ordinance and the North Carolina State Statute. When we encountered a difficult jurisdiction or ordinance requirement, we worked with the planning department to resolve issues in a mutually beneficial manner for both our client and the jurisdiction. When necessary, we respectfully objected to statutory violations to protect our clients’ interests and submitted arguments for why a jurisdiction should reconsider a decision that negatively impacted our clients. For example, one jurisdiction required an extensive collocation analysis documenting the Applicant’s inability to collocate to be submitted and approved prior to the zoning application submission. The planning department initially rejected the collocation analysis submitted for one site, therefore we filed an extensive motion to reconsider and appeal of this decision detailing, among other things, the ways in which the collocation analysis requirements were in conflict with state law. Ultimately, the planning department reversed their decision; we were able to withdraw our appeal, and successfully achieved zoning approval.

 

In addition to working with our clients and jurisdictions, we work diligently with Site Acquisition, Architectural and Engineering, and Environmental firms to coordinate all aspects of achieving zoning approval. We provide comprehensive lists of all required application deliverables to each point of contact and provide weekly follow-ups to reduce application filing times and to ensure that we can present the strongest application possible for our clients. This process has also been successful in ensuring that all requirements of each zoning ordinance are met. For example, many jurisdictions have landscaping and buffering requirements which may require changes in the configuration of wireless facility compounds, the lease area, or an additional landscaping easement from the property owner. Coordination with all points of contact regarding this issue is necessary to ensure that an appropriate solution is reached, strengthening the application presented for hearing and protecting our client’s interests.

 

No matter the jurisdiction, we use our experience and hard work to put together the best application possible for our clients. We are efficient and are constantly working to make the process better for our clients.