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New Missouri law gives local governments less regulation over cell phone towers

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A new law in Missouri opens the door for more cell phone towers across the state.  Only cell phone companies and the FCC can now regulate the location of cell phone towers.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says the new legislation will help expand access to broadband Internet and wireless phone service.  Supporters of the new bill say it will provide faster and more reliable technology.

However, Joplin's city attorney was surprised it passed.  He believes it's an issue of appearance and safety.

Joplin's city attorney Brian Head says something got lost in communication.

"It didn't appear to be about finding middle ground," says Head.  "It appears to be about forcing uniformity across the state."

Cities, counties, and state entities can no longer regulate cell phone towers.

"The aesthetic things like the location, whether it's appropriate to have it right next to a park, a monopole may be a whole lot better because it's a small smaller foot print," says Head.  "Well now, they can put up a tower with guide wires that go out a 100 feet from the base of the pole."

Head says a cell phone company can now build a new tower on city property without permission from the city and with rent determined by a third party.

"Previously, the city has had the ability to require them to change frequencies or do some things to reduce or eliminate any interference that they had with emergency radio.  We've lost that ability under this bill."

Head says tax payers may end up paying for needed upgraded radios for emergency responders.

Residents now only have a say if they want a cell phone tower on their property.  Joplin's attorney says residents are now the city's gate keeper.

We called cell phone companies for comment on this story but they have yet to respond.

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