Wireless Site Constructability
Wireless site constructability hinges on space requirements, accessibility, site planning, environmental considerations, and access to power and telecommunications network connections. The variation among candidate siting options regards how costs to implement site access, tenant finish, antenna mounting, antenna structure, architectural engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering, and provision of utilities affect site constructability.
Existing Antenna Structure Collocations
Antenna structure collocations require fewer hours of a construction manager’s time to oversee proper project implementation. Much of the work associated with antenna structure construction has already been done. Soil tests for the tower or pole and its foundation have been done. The structure has been designed. The foundation has been poured. The structure has been erected.
Type of Structure Owner
Is the structure owner a wireless industry tower-co, a wireless carrier, a broadcaster, a utility, a water district, a local government, or a building owner?
Each of these types of entities is likely to speak a slightly different language regarding the installation of your client’s wireless equipment in their facility. Wireless site acquisition consultants speak the language of wireless carriers and tower companies. As discussed in Module 1 Industry Structure many MLAs, sale/leaseback, and build-to-suit agreements exist between wireless carriers and industry communications site ownership and management tower companies.
New Antenna Structures
While soil tests, tower foundation design, tower design, tower foundation pouring, and tower erection are not typically required for collocations on existing towers, they are always necessary for the construction of new towers. Comparisons were drawn between communications tower styles (such as self-supporting towers, guyed towers, and poles) in Module 5 Wireless Facility Components. Those comparisons detail structure design traits that are considered in the analysis of site constructability. The cost of the structure also figures into the cost of construction.
Ideally, the access road from a public right-of-way is short. The preference of operations personnel for easy access to the facility from public access is supported by a mutually compatible constructability goal. Look for sites that have existing access from the public right-of-way, such as an existing driveway or field entrance from the highway. Sites, where such access doesn’t exist, will require the local jurisdiction or the state highway department to approve a new access permit. The procurement of a highway access permit from the state highway department is not guaranteed.
The terrain has a fundamental impact on the site and access route constructability.
Environmental considerations for wireless facility placement are not to be taken lightly. As discussed in Module 9 Zone-ability environmental considerations can impact zone-ability. The FCC administers the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 with respect to wireless facilities as the lead agency.1 Likewise, federal environmental regulations can affect the constructability of a wireless facility as discussed in Module 30 Community Due Diligence. For instance, if a potential site for the wireless facility is within a couple of hundred feet uphill of an existing lake, stream, or wetland, the constructability of the location is less desirable than alternatives farther from water. The existence of a significant historic site can be the catalyst to force a wireless facility to be out of sight from the area of the historic location.
Wireless facility siting within a mile of wildlife refuges and bird sanctuaries results in scrutiny from the USFWS. Typically, the pressure will be applied to ensure a self-supporting tower is built instead of a guyed tower because the guy wires represent a greater potential hazard to migratory birds than the structure itself.
Native American Indian Reservation Business
A business license is often required to conduct business activities on a Native American Indian reservation. Additionally, construction activities on tribal lands may be subject to Tribal Employment Rights Ordinances (TERO).1 These laws exist to promote qualified Native American Indians for employment, contracting, and business opportunities on and near reservations. One typical tribal requirement is that a meeting is held for qualifying businesses owned by Native American Indians prior to the release of any request for quotations to construction contractors. Large wireless industry site developers tend to conduct an extensive vendor qualification process for contractors. In any event, this is a matter for the construction manager to address and it may affect constructability. Local rules that impact construction processes affect constructability both on tribal lands and private fee-owned properties.
Building Permit Requirements
Part of the wireless facility development due diligence process is to secure details about how a jurisdiction processes applications for building permits. While zoning regulations control land use, building code regulations control construction and wireless facility installation. The building permit requirements of one jurisdiction compared to another might represent a significant extra expense and that extra expense could affect the constructability of one site versus another to the construction manager and project team.
Similar to building permit procedures and charges, local jurisdiction codes specify processes and procedures for utilizing jurisdiction-controlled rights-of-way. Often franchise agreements are utilized to grant rights-of-way, such as is the case with cable television franchising by municipalities. Processes and procedures to administer right-of-way permits vary between jurisdictions, just as they do for zoning. The matter of local jurisdiction provision of public right-of-way for wireless facilities has been a topic of legislation in recent years in numerous states and was addressed by the FCC as referenced in Module 1 Industry Structure, Topic 9 Government Regulation.1 Otherwise, right-of-way permits are typically processed by the jurisdiction’s public works or engineering department, not by planning and zoning or the building department. Right-of-way permits and franchise agreements are discussed in further detail in Module 26 Miscellaneous Agreements.