Reasons to Vote NO - HB2379

We’ve hired one of the top telecommunications attorneys in the country to review the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act (SB1451) with two members of our leadership team. If passed, HB2379 will extend SB1451 for another two  years. As written, HB2379 continues to promote telecom interests and profits while providing NO protective provisions for the municipalities or constituents of Illinois. Based on our attorney’s analysis, we have listed the most problematic points that all government officials need to be aware of before voting on HB2379 or on any legislation that puts restrictions on local control.

Please click here to view legislative solutions that address they key issues related to HB2379/SB1451, along with expanded explanations and reference page numbers in SB1451 that support our findings.

15 Reasons to Vote NO to HB2379/SB1451

  1. No Local Control– Local government is stripped of the right to regulate small wireless facilities because their entire zoning codes are wiped out. They are also completely powerless to defend themselves in a federal lawsuit if they deny an application without substantive evidence.
  2. Misleading Collocation Definition– The definition of collocation or collocate means 4G/5G facilities can be placed on new and existing poles anywhere the applicant wants. Every wireless carrier can have their own pole. The true definition of collocation is to place together, on an existing facility, based on available space. This would limit the structures needed.
  3. Placement on Private Property– The definition of right-of-way allows for small wireless facilities on our private property and easements.
  1. Small Cells are Not Small– The definition of small wireless facility includes everything from a small cell up to a macro tower. The size is small, not the levels of microwave radiation emitted. This definition, in combination with the right-of-way definition, allows for a cell tower, up to a 65-foot, to be placed on your front lawn or easement.
  1. Necessary Addition – Gap in Coverage– There is nothing in the bill that requires the applicant to prove a gap in coverage for personal wireless services. The gap in coverage data is required to prove there is a need for service.  The Telecommunication Act of 1996 does not allow local governments to prohibit service.
  1. Biased Legislative Purpose- The Legislative Purpose benefits telecom by saying the small wireless facilities are critical. There is absolutely no mention of protecting public safety, notification for consent or reducing adverse impacts.
  1. No Notice to Property Owners– There is no notice given to private-property owners when an application for a small wireless facility is filed with a municipality, even if it is to go in front of their home. This is especially problematic for constituents with disabilities who, under the ADA, have the right to a reasonable accommodation for the least intrusive location.
  1. Restrictive Application Approval Process– Local governments must determine within 30 days whether an application for a small wireless facility is complete.  This application could include up to 25 locations on one application, creating an unreasonable burden on the local government.
  1. Inconsistent Wireless Service Definition – The definition of wireless services does not match the Federal law, The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which names wireless services as personal wireless services, and defines them as: commercial mobile services, unlicensed wireless services, and common carrier wireless exchange access services.
  1. Height Allowance– The maximum height allows for a cell tower up to 65 feet tall.
  1. Insurance Issues– Local governments are left vulnerable to liability when wireless carriers are self-insured.  They may have a different entity listed on the certificate of insurance than the one that signed the contract. Often, they will offer indemnity in lieu of insurance. Big insurance carriers like Lloyd’s of London and Swiss Re won’t insure the wireless providers, as they know this will be the next big asbestos or tobacco.
  1. Automatic Application Approvals– Applications are deemed approved if the local government misses their 30-day deadline for responding to an application or if they make any mistake. Also, if a local government doesn’t have a wireless ordinance, telecom can come in and just install their small wireless facilities. The local governments are penalized for not having one.
  1. Biased Fee Structure– The fees the local governments are allowed to charge according to this bill are $650 for the first application and $350 for each additional one, creating a bargain for telecom and a lot of work without much financial benefit for the local governments. Also, when a wireless provider has a monetary agreement that is higher than the fees in the state law, they can just notify the local government that they accept the lower rates and get out of their agreement.
  1. Horizontal Separation Issues – The ability to regulate the horizontal separation between small wireless facility locations is stripped away from the local governments.
  1. No Historic Preservation Restrictions– The ability to apply any restrictions for the preservation to a historic district or in close proximity to a landmark is stripped away from the local governments.