146-29.2. Lease or interest in real property for communication purposes.

(a) The following definitions apply in this section:

(1) Antenna. - Communications equipment that transmits, receives, or transmits and receives electromagnetic radio signals used in the provision of all types of wireless communications services.

(1a) Applicable codes. - The North Carolina State Building Code and any other uniform building, fire, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical codes adopted by a recognized national code organization together with amendments to those codes enacted to address imminent threats of destruction of property or injury to persons.

(1b) Broadband. - Internet access service with transmission speeds that are equal to or greater than the requirements for basic broadband tier 1 service as defined by the Federal Communications Commission for broadband data gathering and reporting, regardless of the technology or medium used to provide the service.

(2) Buildings. - Structures owned or leased by the State on which equipment may be placed or attached.

(3) Collocation. - The placement or installation of wireless or broadband facilities on existing structures, including electrical transmission towers, water towers, buildings, and other structures capable of structurally supporting the attachment of wireless or broadband facilities in compliance with applicable codes.

(4) Equipment. - Antennas, transmitters, receivers, cables, wires, transformers, power supplies, electric and communication lines necessary for the provision of television broadcast signals, radio wave signals, wireless data or wireless telecommunication services, or broadband to a discrete geographic area, and all other apparatuses and appurtenances, including shelters, cabinets, buildings, platforms, and ice bridges used to house or otherwise protect equipment.

(5) Ground area. - The area of real property surrounding the base of towers on which the equipment and appurtenances necessary for the operation and stability of the towers, including guy wires and security fencing, are constructed or installed.

(6) Provider. - Any person that is engaged in the transmission, reception, or dissemination of television broadcast signals, radio wave signals, or electromagnetic radio signals used in the provision of wireless communications service, or the provisioning of wireless infrastructure. The term also includes any person engaged in the provision of broadband.

(7) Tower. - New or existing structures, such as a monopole, lattice tower, guyed tower, fire observation tower or water tower that are designed to support or are capable of supporting equipment used in the transmission or receipt of television broadcast signals, radio wave signals, or electromagnetic radio signals used in the provision of wireless communication service.

(b) The State may lease real property, or may grant an easement or license with an interest in real property for the following communication purposes:

(1) Constructing, installing, and operating towers and equipment on State land.

(2) Installing and operating equipment on towers, buildings, or ground area owned or leased by the State.

(b1) (Effective until January 1, 2025) The State shall allow the collocation, installation, and operation of equipment by a broadband provider on any existing structure owned by the State and shall lease real property, or grant an easement or license with an interest in real property, for the purposes of construction and placement of broadband infrastructure on State land. A disposition entered into pursuant to this subsection is voidable by the Governor and Council of State for specific reasons or causes that shall be cited. A determination for a disposition under this subsection shall be made subject to the following:

(1) For new requests, the Department of Administration shall prepare and finalize the lease agreement within four months of the receipt of the lease application by the controlling agency. An agency controlling the subject property shall coordinate with the Department in preparing the complete application package for the lease request. If, after four months have elapsed since the controlling agency received the lease application, the lease agreement has not been finalized, the Department shall enter into a lease agreement with the applicant according to the terms submitted in the application.

(2) For renewals, the Department of Administration shall prepare and finalize the lease agreement within two months of receiving the application. If the Department is unable to finalize the renewed lease at least two months prior to the termination of the current lease, then the terms of the current lease shall continue until the lease is finalized.

(3) The Department of Administration shall coordinate with the Department of Information Technology to develop a streamlined lease development process using state-of-the-art technology, including video conferencing, to facilitate and expedite process completion. All State agencies shall cooperate with and participate in the streamlined lease development process to ensure that finalized lease agreement is prepared and finalized within the time frames required under this subsection.

(b1) (Effective January 1, 2025) The State shall allow the collocation, installation, and operation of equipment by a broadband provider on any existing structure owned by the State and shall lease real property, or grant an easement or license with an interest in real property, for the purposes of construction and placement of broadband infrastructure on State land. A disposition entered into pursuant to this subsection is voidable by the Governor and Council of State for specific reasons or causes that shall be cited.

(c) New towers constructed on State land shall be designed for collocation. The State shall sublease for collocation purposes space on any tower or ground area leased by the State, if allowed under the terms of the lease. The State shall adopt standard terms and conditions for applications to lease, easements, or other conveyances of an interest in real property for communication purposes and the deployment of broadband.

(d) Pursuant to G.S. 143-341(4)f., the Governor, acting with the approval of the Council of State, may adopt rules authorizing the Department of Administration to enter into or approve classes of leases, easements, or licenses with an interest in real property for the purposes set forth in this section. The rules may allow for execution of leases or other instruments by the Department of Administration rather than execution of the instruments in the manner prescribed in G.S. 146-74 through G.S. 146-78.

(e) Land in the State Parks System, as defined in G.S. 143B-135.44, may only be leased or conveyed for the purposes of this section upon the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Lease or conveyance of land in the State Parks System for the purposes of this section shall comply with the requirements of Parts 31 and 32 of Article 7 [Article 2] of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes. When selecting a location for a communications tower or antenna in the State Parks System, the State shall choose a location that minimizes the visual impact on the surrounding landscape. No land acquired or developed using funds from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund shall be leased or conveyed for the purposes of this section.

(f) City and county ordinances apply to communications towers and antennas authorized under this section. (1998-158, s. 3; 2013-185, s. 3; 2015-241, s. 14.30(nnn); 2018-5, s. 37.1(f); 2020-81, s. 8(a).)