Wireless Telecommunications, Infrastructure Security, and the NIMBY Problem


Federal policies have encouraged the growth of wireless communications services while recognizing the traditional primacy of state and local land use regulations governing their infrastructure. However, collective action problems have resulted in the externalization by some communities of the burdens of accommodating wireless towers and other equipment serving them to other localities. This article explores the infrastructure siting provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It concludes that Congress's effort to strike a balance between local concerns on one hand and national commerce and homeland security on the other has proved vague in content and susceptible to procedural delay that might make local parochialism impervious to challenge. The article suggests statutory changes, including time limitations and the creation of presumptions and safe harbor rules, that might better balance infrastructure development needs with local autonomy.