BATAVIA – With cellular telephone networks becoming overwhelmed by the amount of data streaming through these systems, service providers are seeking to increase their capacity. Part of the solution appears to be small cell towers, designed to supplement existing networks.
A new Illinois law regulating these small wireless facility installations requires municipalities to adopt ordinances mirroring the state act.
The Batavia City Council reluctantly approved such an ordinance July 16.
Batavia officials say the new law will give service providers nearly unlimited rights to place their equipment on city property, including light and utility poles, while limiting fees that the city may collect.
“It behooves us to adopt this,” Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening told city aldermen.
Mayor Jeff Schielke was more blunt.
“The state legislation has literally put the gun to our heads,” Schielke said.
Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said the new small cell installations will be numerous, because their individual coverage area is only a few hundred feet. Holm described the devices as consisting of a box about the size of a college dormitory room refrigerator and an attached antenna.
The ordinance adopted by the city limits the boxes to 12-by-15-by-24 inches in size, and the antenna to 11 inches tall.
With several aldermen absent, the council approved the ordinance on a 7-2 vote. Second Ward Alderman Alan Wolff and 3rd Ward Alderman Elliot Meitzler voted against the ordinance.
Fourth Ward Alderman Susan Stark called the ordinance “the lesser of two evils,” affording the city some measure of control.
More sewer work on the way
The city of Batavia continues to press forward with its aggressive program to correct stormwater flooding problems that have plagued the community in recent years.
The Batavia City Council on July 16 approved a $554,000 contract for drainage work to increase storm sewer capacity in an east side neighborhood including College Street, Cleveland Avenue and South Forest Avenue, extending from East Wilson Street to Mahoney Creek.
The contract went to the low bidder, Copenhaver Construction of Gilberts. The firm is expected to begin work in mid-August, when it has completed another drainage project on the far southeast side of the city, according to Batavia Civil Engineer Chris Bong.