Louisa Broadband Authority takes action
Members of the authority include Chair Melvin Burruss, Vice Chair Bernie Hill, Steve Duren, Mary Johnson, Mark Luttner, Brian Sullivan, Garth Wermter, Fitzgerald Barnes, Stephanie Koren, Mike Lockaby, Christian Goodwin and Bob Hardy.
The Louisa County Board of Supervisors created a Broadband Authority in January comprised of seven appointed citizen members–one from each district.
The first meeting of the authority, after appointments were made and receipt of State Corporation Commission approval, was on June 11. Subsequent meetings were held on July 1 and July 16.
The authority agreed to draft a recommendation to the supervisors to revise the existing telecom ordinance, in an effort to ease the creation of a county-wide network. The recommendation must first be evaluated by the board, then would be sent to the planning commission for review and action, including public hearings.
Assuming the revisions are made by the planners, the supervisors will then conduct its own public hearings before voting on whether to make the change. If approved by the board, the authority can move forward with its plans.
County Attorney Mike Lockaby told authority members that the entire process can take as little as 90 days or longer than six months depending on public sentiment and the support of the board and planning commission.
According to County Administrator Christian Goodwin, the county is close to issuing a new Request for Proposal (RFP) related to the administration of the telecom ordinance application process and fees used today. Under the current Telecom Ordinance, an application fee of $4,000 is required for each tower used to broadcast signals. The county is seeking to make this application fee more flexible, given the need to erect many towers or poles to cover the county in broadband Internet signals.
Mary Johnson, telecom ordinance Subcommittee spokesman, told authority members that the original Telecom Ordinance was intended to limit cell phone towers over 100 feet. Changing some of the ordinance to allow more flexibility to use lower poles, 70 feet high, to broadcast Internet signals would speed up the delivery of a county-wide broadband system by lowering costs for local internet providers.
To read the entire story, see the July 31 edition of The Central Virginian.