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Towns, Counties urge Governor to Veto Wireless Antenna Proposal

Suburban officials are making a last-ditch effort to stop a proposal that would give wireless companies the ability to install small cell antennas on publicly owned utility poles, streetlights and rights of way.

DuPage County this week joined Naperville and other municipalities in approving a resolution urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.

Senate Bill 1451 was approved last month by the Illinois House and the state Senate. By getting dozens of towns and counties to approve resolutions, opponents hope Rauner will step in and prevent the measure from becoming law.

"We're not alone in this resolution," county board member Sam Tornatore said. "This resolution has been identified by both Cook and DuPage counties, as well as the collar counties."

The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, which represents 33 municipal governments, is planning to give resolutions from DuPage and other counties to Rauner before he makes his final decision.

"I would think this is going to be a pretty easy veto for the governor because he's going to have the support of virtually every mayor in Illinois," Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said. "I hope he'll recognize that this is something the mayors are concerned about."

Chirico and other opponents say the measure would limit the authority of municipalities and counties to regulate the location and deployment of the antennas. It also would impose artificially low fees for both the review of permit applications and the use of publicly owned equipment.

"I know the governor is very big on local control," he said. "This is clearly a local control issue, so we hope that he's going to veto it and protect us."

Supporters of the measure, however, argue that it would attract investment in the latest wireless networks in Illinois. They say that would result in faster mobile internet and more jobs.

Putting the "large suitcase-sized" antenna boxes on existing streetlights and utility poles would allow 5G technology to be rolled out in a quicker manner, supporters say.

Chirico said local officials want next-generation mobile technology in the state, but Senate Bill 1451 would give too much authority to wireless companies.

The measure would prevent local governments from prohibiting, regulating or charging for the installation, mounting, maintaining, operating or replacement of the small cell antennas.

"It gives them the ability to essentially install their equipment all over the city," Chirico said. "There wouldn't be much we could do to stop them."

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