An effort to update Langley’s wireless code is becoming an expensive and time-consuming endeavor for the city.
City council members directed the city’s Public Works Advisory Committee back in November to take a closer look at what could be done to strengthen the city’s wireless code, at the urging of Langley citizen Mark Wahl.
But nearly three months later, the city has no new ordinance to show for its efforts.
At a city council meeting this past Tuesday, Finance Director Monica Felici said $3,000 had already been spent in legal fees, not including payroll she had most recently processed.
Mayor Tim Callison said many hours have been spent so far consulting with Mike Kenyon, the city attorney.
“When we have these kind of requests come in, it might behoove us to get an initial investigation from staff to see what kind of activity’s going to be involved in the enterprise before we start down the road on it,” Callison said, adding that the undertaking is costing not only money but also time.
Council Member Dominique Emerson said the discussion around updating the city’s wireless code was instigated over concerns about Puget Sound Energy’s plan to install smart meters. Since that project is a few years away from completion, she suggested the city had time to budget for the wireless ordinance.
The council agreed to separate smart meters from the discourse about a forthcoming wireless ordinance.
Director of Community Planning Brigid Reynolds said the Planning Advisory Board, which is also required to consult on the ordinance discussion, might not be able to get to the issue until April or May.
Council members wondered if the county might have a similar ordinance that could be adopted.
“I’m wondering if this ordinance is oversized for our little town,” said Council Member Christy Korrow.
“We’re not a monetary draw for any wireless carrier,” added Council Member Thomas Gill. “They’re not going to invest a whole lot of money here.”
The council agreed to prepare a citizen survey and hear another update on the project at the next city council meeting, scheduled for March 1.
Members of the public commented on limiting exposure to output from smart meters and wireless communications. Some made claims about the devices negatively impacting their health.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, non-ionizing radiation from wireless technology — such as Wi-Fi, cell phones and other networks — is not strong enough to directly affect the structure of atoms or damage DNA.