Village signs off on 5G roll-out pact

Crown Castle will be allowed to install 137 additional wireless facilities in the village over the next two years to provide enhanced 5G service, according to a settlement agreement Hinsdale trustees approved Tuesday.

And for the second board meeting in a row, consideration of the controversial pact drew a roomful of residents concerned about the project’s potential adverse health consequences and affect on property values.

Village President Tom Cauley said rejecting wireless infrastructure provider Crown Castle’s request for zoning relief to mount the equipment on poles throughout the community was not an option due to overriding federal and state statutes.

“We have to approve this application. We have to, or they’ll go off and they’ll sue us,” Cauley remarked after several speakers urged the village to fight for local control.

One of them was Hinsdale resident Jeff Woolley, who became emotional while imploring trustees to not rule out legal action.

“None of us favor filing a lawsuit against Crown Castle. But when I look into my heart, I think there are times when one has to fight in support of what’s right and ethical,” he said. “Please follow what you know is desired by the residents of Hinsdale.

“File a lawsuit and let’s show Crown Castle what we’re made of,” he added.

Cauley said he and the trustees share residents’ frustrations at the circumstances. Among the first communities to get the 5G roll-out, Hinsdale led the lobbying efforts in Springfield several years ago to defeat the bill that paved the regulatory road for 5G facilities without local interference, he cited.

“We did more than most communities ... to try to stop the Illinois legislation. We were unsuccessful,” Cauley said. “If people want us to go fight, I submit that (Crown Castle) would get an injunction against us from a federal judge that (would let them) put poles wherever they wanted.”

The agreement at least gives the village the power to require equipment be located almost exclusively on existing poles across the community, officials have said. Crown Castle will erect two new poles as part of the project. Equipment will be installed at a minimum of 12 feet high to make it less visible from ground level, and it must match the pole color. All cables must be enclosed in conduit.

Trustee Luke Stifflear said that the previous meeting’s discussion did prompt the village to add a radio frequency monitoring provision to the agreement. A consultant approved by both parties will randomly test the equipment for compliance.

“If we test the equipment and it is within the FCC regulatory requirements, then the village pays for (the testing),” Stifflear said of the procedure that costs $4,500 to $7,000. “If it’s not within the requirements, then Crown Castle will pay for it.”

Trustee Laurel Haarlow recounted seeing spray painted markings all over town a few years ago that ostensibly indicated where new poles would have been placed had the agreement not been hammered out.

“For what we are able to do, we got a pretty good deal for ourselves,” Haarlow said, expressing gratitude for officials’ negotiating work. “The circumstances are really disappointing ... this agreement gets us something that is a lot better than what would be happening if we didn’t have it.”

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean