City and County Wireless Communication Facilities Ordinance Public Meeting

Staff from the Metropolitan Planning Commission recently completed draft cell tower ordinances for the City of Knoxville and Knox County. A public workshop will be held on August 31, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cansler Family YMCA, located at 616 Jessamine Street.  Staff will present an overview of the ordinances and be available to answer questions.


The purpose of the ordinance is to:


  1. Promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare, preserve the aesthetic character of the community, and to reasonably regulate the development and operation of wireless communication facilities (WCFs) within the City and County to the extent permitted under State and Federal law;
  2. Encourage the City and County to affix multiple antenna arrays to existing towers and structures;
  3. Protect residential zones, historic districts, scenic highways and parkways from excessive development of WCFs by ensuring that towers in or near these areas are only sited when alternative facility locations are not feasible;
  4. Accommodate the growing demand for wireless communication services;
  5. Enable WCF providers to furnish comprehensive and efficient wireless communications service to the community minimizing the adverse impacts of their facilities;
  6. Encourage the use of the latest technology through advances in siting and design; and
  7. Establish clear standards for an orderly process for permit application review.

The last update to the cell tower ordinance was in 2001, when people were only using cell phones for phone calls on a 2G (second generation) system. As smart phones have become more popular, people now expect to be able to access data anywhere and on multiple devices. To respond to this demand, the industry is moving towards 5G to increase capacity and speed. As the industry moves forward with 5G, the towers will be smaller and closer together.


More information, including links to both the City and County ordinances and a list of improvements over the existing ordinance, can be found at


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