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Cleveland, Other Cities Challenge New State Wireless Law

Cities across Ohio are suing the state over new rules for installing wireless transmitters in public places, such as on top of streetlights. They argue the rules infringe on their local power to regulate the devices.

Cleveland, Columbus and Independence are among the dozens of municipalities filing lawsuits.

Cleveland has approved about 131 micro wireless facilities in public spaces in the past few years, a city lawyer said at a news conference Monday. They’re meant to improve wireless connections for mobile devices.

Setting up a new one can cost a wireless company up to $750 a year in fees, paid to the city of Cleveland. The new state law limits the charge to $250 and gives cities 90 days to grant or deny new requests.

Cleveland’s lawsuit argues that the law infringes on home rule powers.

“And to have any corporation or any, in this case a wireless company, come in and say that they can usurp those rights for their economic benefit is not correct,” Mayor Frank Jackson said in the news conference.

Independence Mayor Anthony Togliatti said during the news conference that the measure reduces his city’s ability to regulate its own appearance.

Customers and residents, Togliatti said, “choose to be located within the city of Independence because of the aesthetics and appeal of our municipality.”

The measure was one of numerous provisions tucked into the so-called “Petland Bill,” legislation that addressed the regulation of dog sales.

State Rep. Rob McColley, a Republican from Napoleon who voted for the overall bill, told the Columbus Dispatch in December that the measure would help bring faster mobile internet to the state.

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