Easement Confusion Continues to Plague South Jacksonville Cell Tower Construction

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 20, 2023 at 10:24am

Confusion over an easement continues to plague the cell phone tower project in the Village of South Jacksonville. The Board of Trustees heard from the Director of External and Legislative Affairs for AT&T, Chirs Warwick during their committee of the whole meeting.

Warwick said he had been asked by AT&T representation to attend the meeting and that action on the requested easement to the site of a proposed new tower would be voted on, however the easement was not listed on the agenda.

Last month, Village Attorney Rob Cross informed the board that AT&T was requesting two utility easements to the site just south of the Ameren Illinois substation off Sequoia Drive.

Village President Dick Samples has repeatedly shared concerns that the village should not grant access to village-owned property and that the access should be in an area adjacent to the village’s property.

Last night another issue came into play, as confusion over if the rights to cable internet service had been bid out yet. Samples told the board that he had contacted Casscom who said they had submitted a bid for providing internet service to the tower but did not win. Warwick said he had been told by project management with AT&T that the service was not being out for bid until all easements were acquired.

Compounding the issue is that Casscom has an existing easement accessing the property. Samples said he was told Casscom would refuse access to its easement for another internet supplier.

Samples says the information presented by AT&T so far on the issue isn’t adding up. “Well somebody’s right and somebody’s wrong and I believe I’m right in the information I provided everybody. As of two o’clock this afternoon, AT&T had not gotten back with our attorneys, ah, end of story there.”

The Village issued a building permit for the site on October 6th, which was listed in the meeting agenda. After being questioned on whether this was the only holdup to the project, Warwick said no physical construction could begin until the easement was finalized.

Trustee Paula Belobrajdic-Stewart said she wanted to see the easement issue pushed to a resolution between now and the next regular board meeting on November 2nd so action could be taken then and the project moved forward, which met with vocal approval from the rest of the board.