SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council unanimously approved allowing cell providers to bring newer technology to the city more seamlessly.
The council voted, 8-0, during its Monday meeting to pass an ordinance that will pave the way for newer technology, such as fifth generation coverage and Wi-Fi service, despite some expressed concerns over a lack of control regarding future amendments.
Effective last month, a state law requires municipalities such as Sycamore to pass the local law that limits permit regulations and rate fees that communities can impose.
City Manager Brian Gregory said the small wireless facilities would go on top of structures that already exist in the city, such as street lights. He said the state required the city to have the ordinance in effect by Aug. 1.
“The act is meant to streamline and more so unify the regulation, so it’s not so different from community to community,” Gregory said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner originally signed Senate Bill 1451 with the intent to help make Illinois more competitive for businesses and to embrace advanced technology.
The bill ensures that local governments keep their role and authority in the permitting process of telecommunications equipment by allowing them to exercise their zoning, land use, planning and permitting authorities within their territorial boundaries, including wireless support structures and utility poles.
Gregory said wireless carriers would only have to be in compliance with state law if there is no local ordinance regarding small wireless facilities installation. He said that would mean less control at the municipal level.
City Attorney Keith Foster said it’s still a topic of statewide discussion whether or not municipalities can make ordinance adjustments in the future. He said the technology is so new that municipalities don’t know what to expect when it’s implemented.
Regardless, Foster said, city officials know that 5G coverage will be a necessity soon throughout the country, let alone in Sycamore.
“This [technology] is what is going to make your car drive,” Foster said.
The ordinance in Sycamore includes required application fees of $650 to install a single small cell on existing poles. Wireless carriers will also be charged $350 for each small cell if they wanted to install more than one on an existing pole.
In other council business, members unanimously voted to approve revised building plans for a new Meijer store on Peace Road and Illinois Route 23. That comes after city plan commissioners voted last week to approve the amended plan, which includes changing the number of parking spaces and islands after the company shrank the store’s building size.