New York City Regulation of Rooftop Wireless Telecommunications Equipment

On July 1, 1998, the New York City Department of Buildings issued Technical Policy and Procedure Notice (TPPN) #5/98 which recognized that cellular telephony had become a prevalent form of communication essential to the public interest.  TPPN #5/98 clarified the conditions under which small antennas and related equipment would not be classified “communication equipment structures.”  The New York City Board of Standards and Appeals has upheld the authority of the Department of Buildings to issue TPPN 5/98 and allowed certain rooftop facilities to be constructed by building permit and without the need for a special use permit in a residential zoning district.  See e.g. In re 32-42 33rd Street, Queens (BSA Case No. 287-05-A, Decided July 24, 2007).

Under the TPPN 5/98, a rooftop cell site is exempted from zoning and permitted as of right in residential districts if: (1) the antennas are attached to a building or other structure that has a use independent of supporting the antennas; (2) the antennas do not extend higher than six feet above the height of the roof or parapet on the roof, or six feet above any penthouse or bulkhead, if placed on such penthouse or bulkhead; (3) the antennas each have an area no more than 8.45 square feet or 1 meter in diameter; and (4) the related cellular equipment occupies not more than 5 percent of the floor area on a zoning lot or 400 square feet.  The latter requirement has become known as the “400 Square Foot Rule.”

However, it should be noted that rooftop mounted wireless telecommunications equipment is nevertheless subject to private real estate agreements as well as state and federal laws.

If you have any questions regarding wireless telecommunications facilities, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (914) 338-8050.  Please visit our home page for more information about the firm.

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