Local Leaders Unite To Oppose State’s Small Cell Wireless Bill
County and municipal leaders have united to oppose the passage of SB1451 — the Small Cell Wireless Bill — which would take away local governmental authority to regulate small cell wireless antennas on public rights of way.
On Nov. 7, Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen, DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, and Kendall County Chairman Scott Gryder joined Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico at a forum in Aurora to express concerns to state legislators.
Also in attendance were the North Aurora Mayor Dale Berman, Addison Mayor Rich Veenstra, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, Oswego Village President Gail Johnson, Warrenville Mayor David Brummel and Willowbrook Mayor Frank A. Trilla.
According to the state of Illinois website, the state Senate voted Nov. 9 to concur with the bill, but a motion was filed the same day to reconsider the vote.
“There are too many public safety and logistical issues that remain unresolved for this piece of legislation to go forward,” Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said. “It’s just not soup yet.”
SB 1451 creates the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act and assures that local governments may not prohibit, regulate, or charge for the installation, mounting, maintaining, modifying, operating, or replacement of small wireless facilities on or adjacent to a wireless support structure or utility pole.
DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin described Senate Bill 1451 as an overreach by the state.
“It would take control of public property, and our right-of-way, and turn it over to large telecommunication companies for commercial profit,” he said. “In the past year, state lawmakers have already siphoned more than $3.5 million of DuPage taxpayers’ money back to Springfield to balance their budget.
“Now, lawmakers want to give away our infrastructure, paid for and maintained by local taxpayers. We emphatically say, ‘no.’ We ask the General Assembly to support local control and keep the management of critical infrastructure where it belongs, with our communities.”
Irvin called the legislation “abusive,” saying it gives private companies a monopoly over public infrastructure that is “unfair and unethical.”
“Granting private businesses cart blanche over municipalities’ right-of-ways is not good government or good business,” Chirico said. “We want all parties to come together to find a solution that benefits everyone: cities, counties and businesses. As the bill stands, this would devastate the landscape of Naperville and surrounding communities.”
In addition to stripping local authority to fully regulate the location and deployment of small cell wireless antennas, the proposed new law will imposes low fees for both the review of permit applications and the use of municipal equipment.
Last month, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill for the very same reasons. Scientists and activists said the California bill would result in 50,000 new antennas.
“I believe the best interest which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balance solution that the one achieve in this bill,” Brown said.
Other states have had similar reactions. In Ohio, more than 90 cities — including Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati — are suing the state of the Small Cell bill passed there. In Texas, 22 cities have filed a lawsuit challenging the new law, as well.
Locally, cities and counties representing millions of Illinois residents are opposing SB141 including the city of Elgin and Cook, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. In addition, DuPage Mayors and Managers, the Lake County Municipal League, Metro West Council of Government, DuPage Water Commission, City Water Light and Power in Springfield and Charter Communications are opposed.
“It is clear this bill should not be rushed for the Fall Veto Session,” said Irvin. “It is imperative that our state legislators find a fair balance between wireless companies and local municipalities.”
- Feature Photo Caption: Local leaders speak against Senate Bill 1451 during a Nov. 7 press conference held in Aurora. From left to right are Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
SOURCE: city of Aurora news release, state of Illinois website