Cauley: Hands are tied on 5G agreement


Last updated 4/5/2023 at 3:43pm | View PDF

Hinsdale officials told residents Tuesday night that there is little they can do to address concerns about a proposed agreement with Crown Castle Fiber LLC to roll out 5G in the village.

Village President Tom Cauley told residents the state and federal government have tied the village’s hands.

“We have no authority to regulate the kind of equipment that telecommunications users provide,” he said. “There is a federal policy about 5G and the federal government has said they want 5G to be throughout the U.S. and they have taken the rights of villages for health and safety concerns.”

The state also passed a law — Illinois Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act — making it easier for telecommunications companies to do what they want.

“Our legislature has made it a law that these 5G antennas are a permitted use on the rights of way in our village,” Cauley said. “They don’t even have to prove to us there is a lack of coverage.”

The village and Crown Castle, a wireless communications infrastructure provider, have been discussing for months the company’s application to install 137 additional wireless facilities in the village over the next two years to provide enhanced 5G service. The company believes federal and state law entitle it to proceed, while the village has maintained the pending application is incomplete and deficient in various respects. If the parties cannot reach a settlement, Crown Castle has stated its intention to sue, according to village documents.

The proposed agreement would allow Crown Castle to install equipment on 135 existing poles and install two poles at new locations, Trustee Luke Stifflear said. Equipment will be installed at a minimum of 12 feet, higher than the proposed nine to 10 feet to keep it out of sight lines, and must be the same color as the pole. All cables must be enclosed in conduit.

Cauley said Stifflear and village staff worked diligently on the agreement and noted that if the village attempts to regulate more than location and aesthetics, it is likely to be taken to court — and to lose.

“I truly, truly, truly think this is the best we can do from an aesthetics and location perspective,” Cauley said. “I think we’ve got the best deal we can get under this agreement.”

Several speakers shared their concerns about 5G equipment, citing the danger of radiofrequency emissions, how those emissions will be monitored and the type of pesticide that will be applied to the poles.

Western Springs resident Heidi Hanson said she was pleased to hear Cauley say he is not afraid of litigation and suggested that puts the village in a position to negotiate a better agreement.

“Our village decided they were afraid of litigation and they said so frequently,” she said. “I think that put them in a weak bargaining position. I have to think if they fought a little harder, they could have got a better deal.

“I wish you would consider fighting on a little harder and a little longer,” she said.

Some speakers asked about the exact location of the transmitters. Cauley said the agreement includes proposed locations, but exact sites have yet to be determined.

Hinsdale resident Marilyn Bloom asked if the village had looked at the impact of the agreement on property values and wondered if she will be able to sell her $3.5 million home.

“This still would not be a reason this board could oppose putting in poles,” Cauley responded.

One speaker, who provided only her first name, asked why the villages aren’t joining together to fight.

“If we had enough men that would take off their dress shoes and put on their boots and fight this war for us, we could win,” she said. “Our children have no future if that is what happens. Our children are going to be glowing in the dark.”

Cauley emphasized the village’s legislative efforts.

“We proposed a state law,” he said. “I wrote opposition. I know the staff did. We thought it was state law overreach. We were very, very much against it, but it is the law.”

Trustees are slated to approve the agreement at their next meeting Tuesday, April 18.

“We’ll take all the comments under advisement and we’ll be back April 18 to talk about it again,” Cauley said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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