Gov. Jay Nixon has an interesting decision sitting on his desk.
The Missouri General Assembly has sent him a bill – the Uniform Wireless Communications Infrastructure Deployment Act – to change the rules on how cellphone towers are placed. Telecommunications companies like the bill, but cities don’t.
Those who support the bill say some cities – not in Eastern Jackson County but elsewhere – have unduly held up the placement of cell towers and charged excessive fees. They have “kind of held them hostage,” state Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, said at a legislative briefing in Blue Springs last week. He voted for the bill.
He added, “I’m willing to work with anybody that wants to solve the problem.”
It was Blue Springs City Council Member Jeff Quibell who raised the issue at the briefing. It’s a question of local control and, Blue Springs officials say, they’ve handled cell towers requests the right way. City Administrator Eric Johnson testified against the bill in Jefferson City, and he said a blanket approach is disappointing.
State Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs, said she agreed with those sentiments, and she voted no.
The Missouri Municipal League says the bill undermines local responsibility for land use and zoning. The bill allows “co-location” of cell equipment on existing structures without local oversight, without local rules requiring screening or landscaping to improve the site’s appearance, and without a requirement that abandoned facilities be removed. It says the bill is a solution in search of a problem.
Rep. Sheila Solon, R-Blue Springs, said the bill does not trump local zoning – no cell tower 50 feet from your house just because your neighbor wants one – but said the issue is good cell coverage across the state. She voted for the bill.
“For me, it was just a matter of public safety and doing the greater good,” Solon said.
Coming and going
Twin Peaks has opened at 19821 E. Jackson Drive in Independence. The company describes its sports restaurants as serving “hearty, made-from-scratch man food” but also says the main attractions are its “Twin Peaks Girls,” who account for about 100 of the restaurant’s 175 employees.
It’s good see the Hostess Wonder Bread outlet store has re-opened at 1431 S. Noland Road. That company has been through the bankruptcy wringer, but at least the bread stores are back. ... Just up the street, at Noland and Fair, the old QuikTrip has been leveled. The McDonald’s at 1401 S. Noland Road is moving there, but that could be months away.
No word yet on whether any local RadioShack stores will be among the up to 1,100 the company plans to close. The company, which has been trying to keep up with a shifting market, is closing roughly one-fifth of its stores but says it will keep a “strong presence in each market.” It has four locations in the immediate area: one in Blue Springs, two in Independence and a Kansas City location at Blue Ridge Crossing (Wal-Mart, Lowe’s), a stone’s throw from Independence.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’ s business reporter and editor. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @FoxEJC or @Jeff_Fox.