Rezoning Ordinance for New Cell Phone Tower in South Jacksonville Passes; Language Still Needs to Be Cleared Up For Safety Requirements

By Benjamin Cox on July 31, 2023 at 5:22am

The proposal for a new cell phone tower in South Jacksonville inched closer on Thursday night.

The Village Board of Trustees voted in favor of unanimously adopting an ordinance for the zoning change at 317 West Vandalia from residential to public access. The ordinance also included a special use clause to allow for the building of a 195-foot tall cell phone tower at the location near the Ameren-Illinois substation already on the property.

Village President Dick Samples says he wants to clear any confusion that the village is not leasing the property but the lease will be between AT&T’s contractor and Ameren: “We are not going to have a lease with AT&T. We are simply allowing them to build a tower on this property that currently has Ameren’s substation. Any lease will be between AT&T and Ameren.”

Samples says that the ordinance’s language has a few final pieces that need to be cleared up. He wants to ensure that emergency communications at the Sequoia Drive Police & Fire Station will not be interfered with once the tower is operational: “If, in the event that they put up a tower, and they put an antenna on this tower like they did near the Morgan County Jail, it had problems with the county sending and receiving transmissions of their radios; I want to eliminate that problem right off the bat. The first thing that AT&T’s representatives have said is it’s under federal regulations and all that and they can’t do that. Well, evidently, they are doing it because they have had problems at the county.”

Samples says that language will be included in the ordinance and that any entity who is installed on the tower along with the tower’s owner will be liable for a fine of up to $500 a day for causing any interference with emergency communications.

A representative from AT&T was in attendance and said that he was amendable to those provisions. Finalization of the language is expected to occur at the village’s next regular business meeting on Thursday, August 3rd.