OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The pole is still here and it may not be going anywhere. Now, the state senator who represents the area that includes 55th and Poppleton, is looking into possible changes in state law.
“I’m obviously, I would love to see it move, I don’t know if that’s a realistic hope, I’m hoping to at least make sure it happens again,” said State Senator John Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh represents the Aksarben neighborhood where the Verizon 5G pole was placed.
He went and saw it last week.
“I was pretty surprised,” said Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh, like many, still has more questions than answers.
He’s digging into state law, including recent changes, to see how this happened in the first place.
He's requested city documents on how the pole got approved.
“I don’t know the answer to what process the city of Omaha took yet,” said Cavanaugh.
The state statute put in a few years ago expedites the process to get these poles put in. Cities are allowed to deny for factors like zoning or aesthetics.
But Cavanaugh points to sections where it allows denial for blocking pedestrian traffic, breaking ADA laws or “Materially and demonstrably interferes with the safe operation of traffic control equipment or the right-of-way."
It appears Verizon first planned to put the pole between the sidewalk and curb, but couldn't due to a water line. Other spots were also nixed due to power lines and bad radio frequencies. It's unclear if Verizon got permission to specifically put the pole in the sidewalk.
While Cavanaugh is searching for answers, so is Councilmember Danny Begley, who represents the area. He’s also not pleased.
“I thought it’s a crazy idea, it’s got to be wrong,” said Cavanaugh.
It's unclear if state law needs to change, but if it does Begley is asking for a requirement that communication companies need to communicate better.
“That the communication companies that were looking here, would communicate with the neighbors and neighborhood groups, to let them know, 'We’re putting a pole in here,' and we’re notified,” said Begley.
If the pole stays, Verizon will likely have to pay for a sidewalk to be placed in the neighbor's yard next to the pole.