Telecommunications Permits

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A telecommunications project involves the installation or construction of a new structure or the co-location on an existing structure of a wireless telecommunications facility.

The Zoning Division issues three types of permits for telecommunications projects.

  • Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities
  • Zoning Telecommunications Permit for a New Structure (up to 50 feet above ground level)
  • Zoning Telecommunications Permit to Co-locate on an Existing Structure

Use the Zoning Telecommunications Permit Application in Permit Arlington to apply for any of the three.

Note that there are additional requirements for a small cell facility in the right-of-way.

Determine which type of permit you need.

1.       Are you installing a new structure?

If no, see #2.

If yes, does the new structure, with attached wireless facilities, exceed 50 feet above ground level?

  • If no, make sure the structure meets the requirements listed in the table below for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit for a New Structure. Apply for that permit.
  • If yes, apply for a County Board Special Exception Use Permit.

 
2.       Are you co-locating a wireless facility on an existing structure?

If yes…

  • If the existing structure is a small cell wireless facility, make sure the project meets the requirements listed in the table below for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities. Apply for that permit.
  • If the existing structure is not a small cell wireless facility, make sure the project meets the requirements listed in the table for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit to Co-locate on an Existing Structure. Apply for that permit.

 
If no, review the requirements for each type of telecommunication permit and the County Board Special Exception Use Permit to determine which application to submit.

Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities (new installation, equipment replacement or modifications to previously approved small cell facility) Zoning Telecommunications Permit to Co-locate on an Existing Structure (Co-location) (place a wireless facility on an existing structure or modify a previously approved co-location permit) Zoning Telecommunications Permit for a New Structure (installation or construction)
  • Each antenna is located inside an enclosure of no more than six (6) cubic feet in volume, or, in the case of an antenna that has exposed elements, the antenna and all its exposed elements could fit within an imaginary enclosure of no more than six (6) cubic feet.
  • All other wireless equipment associated with the facility has a cumulative volume of no more than 28 cubic feet, or such higher limit as is established by the Federal Communications Commission.
  • Must be located on private property
  • Wireless facility to be co-located may not be a small cell facility
  • Co-locate means to install, mount, maintain, modify, operate or replace a wireless facility on, under, within or adjacent to a base station, building, existing structure, utility pole or wireless support structure.
  • Wireless facility means equipment at a fixed location that enables wireless communications between user equipment and a communications network. It includes radio transceivers, antennas, coaxial, or fiberoptic cable, regular and backup power supplies, and comparable equipment.
  • Structure does not exceed 50 feet above ground level
  • Structure is designed to support small cell facilities
  • Structure does not exceed 10 feet above the highest existing utility pole within 500 feet of the new structure in the same public right-of-way or line of utility poles
  • Structure is not within the jurisdictional boundaries of a local, state or federal historic district
  • Structure has not yet been installed, constructed or approved for installation or construction at the time of application filing

The regulations for these permits are found in the Code of Virginia Title 15.2, § 2316.4 – 2316.4:3.

Arlington County also approves telecommunications projects via a County Board Special Exception Use Permit, generally for installation or construction of new structures taller than 50 feet above ground level.

Consult the Inspection Services Division (ISD) to determine if you need a building permit in addition to any of the permits above.

You may wish to seek legal advice as to whether you need to record a wireless tower agreement at the Arlington Court House.

Telecommunications Permits FAQs

With any of the three telecommunications permits, will I need a building permit?

Consult the Inspection Services Division (ISD). They can help you determine if you need a building permit.

Small Cell Facilities FAQs

Is my project a small cell wireless facility?

Small cell facilities increase capacity to a wireless communication provider’s network in high-traffic areas. They typically consist of an antenna, enclosed or exposed, and associated wireless equipment.

The Zoning Division will determine if your project meets the definition found in the Code of Virginia, which defines a small cell facility as a wireless facility meeting both of the following qualifications:

  1. Each antenna is located inside an enclosure of no more than six (6) cubic feet in volume, or, in the case of an antenna that has exposed elements, the antenna and all of its exposed elements could fit within an imaginary enclosure of no more than six (6) cubic feet.
  2. All other wireless equipment associated with the facility has a cumulative volume of no more than 28 cubic feet, or such higher limit as is established by the Federal Communications Commission.

 
I’m co-locating equipment. Should I apply for a small cell facilities permit or a co-location permit?

If the proposed wireless facility is being installed on an existing structure on private property, and its dimensions fall within the legal definition of a small cell facility, you must apply for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities. Per the state code, the co-location permit is reserved for non-small cell facilities.

The existing structure to which I am attaching a small cell facility was approved through a Special Exception County Board Use Permit. For which telecommunications permit should I apply?

  1. If you are co-locating a new facility (antenna + supporting equipment), and the dimensions of the facility fall within the parameters of the definition for a small cell facility, apply for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities.
  2. If you are co-locating supporting equipment only (without an antenna), apply for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit to Co-Locate on an Existing Structure.

 
I already have an approved small cell facility permit. I propose to add or replace equipment on the same small cell facility. Which application should I use?

  1. If you are replacing supporting equipment only, use the Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities.
  2. If you are adding supporting equipment…
  • And the existing equipment and the new equipment together exceed 28 cubic feet, use the Zoning Telecommunications Permit to Co-locate on an Existing Structure.
  • And the existing equipment and the new equipment together do not exceed 28 cubic feet, use the Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities.

 
Collocation FAQs

What does “co-locate” mean?

Per the state code, co-locate means to install, mount, maintain, modify, operate or replace a wireless facility on, under, within or adjacent to a base station, building, existing structure, utility pole or wireless support structure.

What qualifies as a co-location project for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit to Co-locate on an Existing Structure?

Per the state code, a co-location project is defined as the co-location on any existing structure of a wireless facility that is not a small cell facility.

What if I want to co-locate a small cell facility?

If you want to co-locate a facility whose dimensions fall within the legal definition of a small cell facility onto an existing structure on private property, you must apply for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit for Small Cell Facilities.

New Structures FAQs

What qualifies as a new structure for a Zoning Telecommunications Permit for a New Structure?

A new structure that:

  1. Reaches up to 50 feet above ground level;
  2. Is designed to support small cell facilities;
  3. Does not exceed 10 feet above the highest utility pole within 500 feet of the new structure in the same public right-of-way or line of utility poles; and
  4. Is not within the jurisdictional boundaries of a local, state or federal historic district

 
How do I determine if my structure exceeds 10 feet above the highest utility pole within 500 feet of the new structure in the same public right-of-way or line of utility poles?

The Department of Environmental Services (DES) can provide information regarding heights of utility poles in Arlington.

How can I find out if my new structure is within the jurisdictional boundaries of a local, state or federal historic district?

Start by consulting the Arlington County Historic Preservation Program (HPP).

Submission Requirements

Before applying for an administrative permit, determine if your project meets all criteria for one of the permit categories. See the questions and table above. If your project does not meet the requirements listed, explore a County Board Special Exception Use Permit.

  • Use the Zoning Telecommunications Permit Application in Permit Arlington to apply for a permit for a small cell facility, a new structure up to 50 feet above ground level or a co-location.
    • From the Create drop-down menu in the Permit Arlington system, select Zoning Application. Then select Telecommunications.
    • View Permit Arlington Help for assistance with the online system.
  • An applicant may apply for only one permit type per application (small cell, new structure or co-location).
  • An application may contain up to 35 small cell facilities per permit request.
  • An application may contain only one new structure on a single site per permit request.
  • An application may contain only one co-location request per existing structure per permit request.

Be sure your application is properly filled out and includes:

  • A notarized signature
  • A signed statement from the site owner showing agreement to allow installation or construction of a new structure on the site. If you are applying for a permit to co-locate a wireless facility on an existing structure, provide a statement from the owner of the structure showing agreement to allow co-location.
  • Specifications for all equipment
  • A site plan, including a vicinity map, showing the location of the proposed structure or co-location in relation to other structures or wireless facilities
  • 11-inch by 17-inch drawings to scale, stamped by a professional engineer, showing the elevation profile of the new structure and indicating the heights of the structure and any attached wireless facility. For co-location projects, drawings must show proposed wireless facilities to be co-located and height of the existing structure and other existing wireless facilities. Specifically, drawings must show:
    • Heights of proposed antennas and/or existing antennas (with carrier names and antenna type)
    • Heights designated for future attachments, if any
    • Any equipment sheds, cabinets, ice bridge, cabling, etc.
    • The location of other existing or approved carrier facilities, antennas and equipment

Additional Information

Staff will review the application for completion and contact you via email, within 10 days of filing, if any elements are missing.

Zoning will review the application for compliance with the Code of Virginia Title 15.2, § 2316.42316.4:3. Zoning will approve or deny the application within:

  • 60 days for small cell facility applications
  • 150 days for new structure applications
  • 90 days for co-location applications

If more time is necessary, staff will email the applicant.

Scheduling Inspections

Once your permits have been approved, you must schedule inspections to ensure the safety and proper progress of the project.

Fees

Fee Schedules provide the range of fees charged for each type of application or activity related to land development in Arlington. Fees cover permitting, plan review, enforcement, inspection, service delivery, performance agreements and conditions. There are separate fee schedules for the Inspection Services Division (ISD), Zoning and the Department of Environmental Services (DES). Some permits involve fees from more than one schedule.