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Zoning change puts Geneva in line with federal law

Additional text amendments address 5G technology

GENEVA – Aldermen voted unanimously to amend the city’s code for wireless services and zoning for regulating wireless communication facilities.

Though aldermen had already voted to amend its code last month to beat a state deadline for local control, their action Aug. 6 was to update the city code to be in line with federal law, officials said.

The Plan Commission unanimously recommended approval of the text amendments to the zoning code at its July 26 meeting, officials said.

The commission’s recommendation included adding an additional setback requirement for new towers.

The original draft required a setback distance equal to the height of the tower or 110 percent of the distance from the top of the structure to the breakpoint level, if it is designed with that type of technology.

Additional language was added to require an additional setback of 20 feet or the minimum side and rear setback requirement of the zoning district the tower is located in, whichever is greater.

Consultant Elizabeth Herington-Smith, from CityScape Consultants Inc., said the trend in the cell industry to reduce tower heights to 80 feet to 100 feet.

This zoning change, like the small cell ordinance change of last month, are in response to the development of 5G wireless technology.

“If we did nothing, the technology would still come,” said 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra. “This technology would still come. We can’t stop it.”

“The ordinance you are voting on tonight makes you compliant with current regulations,” Herington-Smith said.

Resident John Hunter, who had objected to the previous city council action, also objected to this one.

Hunter was concerned about the health effects of manmade radiation from the small cell towers.

“Err on the side of caution,” Hunter said. “If you are unlucky enough to live near these, 100 feet is really, really close. … I can throw a rock 100 feet.”

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