Following more than two months of community uproar, meetings and discussions, state Rep. Jason Zachary facilitated a meeting between AT&T and Verizon, which led to an agreement between the wireless carriers and the Town of Farragut Wednesday regarding the current 5G rollout in Farragut.
Zachary - who had presented HB 2150, a proposed amendment to the 2018 state Telecommunications Bill, earlier in the day before the state General Assembly's Utilities committee - reported the agreement was reached mid-day on Wednesday.
"In the three terms I have served, I have never had an issue so specific to our district or of such a magnitude in which we were able to reach an agreement with all parties,” said Zachary Wednesday afternoon. "I could not be more excited.
"We met for more than two hours," Zachary continued, noting he, a Verizon representative, Farragut Administrator David Smoak and AT&T president Joelle Phillips were involved.
"They were really willing to work with us, and went over every concern we had,"
Zachary said. "Joelle was so helpful, and acted as more of a facilitator in helping along the discussion."
"We cannot prohibit the roll out of 5G according to the FCC Statute of 2018, but state law and the FCC Statute do provide a level of flexibility that we were all able to identify and reach an agreement on how that flexibility was written to allow for certain aesthetics, height and placement requirements within our community.
"The Town of Farragut has aesthetic ordinances in place, but they all must be contained within the same ordinance, and be in line with the Statue passed in 2018. AT&T has agreed to work with Farragut to ensure that the plan lines up with statue," Zachary added.
Specifics addressed during the meeting — along with a commitment to continue to work with Farragut — includes finalizing the co-location agreement with Verizon and LCUB; ensuring pole heights are capped; that aesthetics of any install are in line with those of all Farragut communities and revisiting requested changes to the 11 poles approved in January by the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission.
"Verizon agreed to step back and be more willing to consider changing certain aspects of those poles and pole placement," Zachary said.
He said they do not yet have an agreement in writing as of Wednesday afternoon, and Verizon officials were to meet and discuss the agreement's parameters Thursday. However, Zachary said he believed "90 to 95 percent of the concerns have been addressed, and will be addressed.
"I know no negotiation ever gets you to 100 percent, but this is a huge, huge win for Farragut and West Knoxville. I thank AT&T and Verizon for their willingness to listen and work with the residents of West Knoxville"
Town passes emergency resolution
Getting the ball rolling on presenting Zachary’s legislation Wednesday morning, the legislator had contacted Town Hall Monday, asking a supporting resolution be passed.
Officials quickly worded the document, with help from Town Attorney Tom Hale, (which can be found on the farragutpress web page), then the Town Board of Mayor and Aldermen met in a called meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, to vote on the matter, which the body unanimously supported.
see resolution here