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Board doesn’t connect with AT&T cellular tower request

Trustees don’t see need to change ordinance in order to accommodate company

CHANNAHON – The village board this week heard a request for placement of a cellular tower in Channahon.

National Wireless Ventures, which is representing AT&T, wanted feedback from trustees on whether AT&T would be able to construct a 135-foot, free-standing pole tower with an 11-foot by 28-foot shelter base in the west side of Central Park.

The spokesperson for the company, Bob Stapleton, told the board there are a few reasons the supplier wants the new tower. One is the black hole of AT&T coverage that exists in that area.

Another is demand. Thirty-five percent of wired telephone customers have disconnected in recent years, he said, to switch to wireless-only phone service. Many more are needing cellular service, he said. In addition, many other services are moving wireless, such as gas meters, water meters, and the electric grid.

Another reason for the new tower, according to village staff, is that federal laws require service providers be able to locate each 9-1-1 emergency call to within 100 feet, which cannot be adequately done with the number of towers in service in the area today.

Stapleton wants to locate the new tower on Channahon Park District property. Park District Executive Director Chuck Szoke was present at the meeting and said his board has agreed “to the idea” of placing the tower on its property, but it hasn’t discussed the exact spot or height.

The provider wants to locate the new tower within 1,200 feet of St. Ann’s Catholic Church. The site brought up before the village board Monday evening is near the soccer fields in Central Park, next to the Channahon Municipal Center and the park district’s pool and main building. There are already fiber optic lines and electric lines that run right under the site.

The height is what most on the village board questioned. Channahon’s telecommunication ordinance specifies a maximum height of 80 feet and a setback of 150 percent of the tower’s height from any residentially zoned lot or building setback line. The proposed tower would be 135 feet tall and adjacent to the Town Center Zoning District, which contains residential.

The Channahon Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the tower not be placed at that location, and the village board consensus was the same. According to Szoke, the site is not one administrators at Channahon School District 17 favor, either.

Dr. Karin Evans, superintendent of the school district, explained during a phone conversation after the meeting that the tower, which could house three cellular service providers, is very close to Channahon Junior High and to the district’s youngest grades at N.B. Galloway School.

“We questioned what our parents and community would think about having this tower by Galloway School,” Evans said. “We weren’t sure how everyone would feel about that. . . When you look at a cell tower and the closeness to a school, parents might ask if there is a better site. Those are our littlest students.”

Some of the village trustees also had issues with the location.

Village President Joe Cook asked if that was what the board wanted to see in its backyard, right next to the memorial tree walk.

Trustee Scott Slocum did not want to change village ordinance for the proposed tower.

“Is it the village’s responsibility to go against our ordinances to help out AT&T?” Slocum asked. “I don’t think it is.”

Trustee Debbie Militello said she lives in that particular dead zone, but she’d still rather not have the large tower.

“Personally, we need it in a stealth tower,” she said.

The village board this week also discussed regulating residential lots.

Issues have come before the board previously regarding when one owner has two adjoining residential lots. Trustees will give their comments to staff this week on such questions as what to do with the extra water/sewer service to the lots; should consolidation of the lots be allowed; what if there is a request to construct a second garage and shed; and what if there are requests to add a second driveway.

Also Monday ordinances were approved to authorize the issuance of $6 million of revenue refunding bonds for Morris Hospital, and $5 million taxable limited obligation tax increment revenue refunding bonds to Aux Sable Project.

Trustee Jerry Papesh was absent from Monday’s meeting.   

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