South Jacksonville Nears Approval of AT&T Cellphone Tower Construction Site

By Benjamin Cox on July 14, 2023 at 2:13pm

The red box with the X marks the spot where AT&T has proposed a 195-foot tall Cellular Tower to be constructed.

South Jacksonville is one closer step away from getting a brand new AT&T-owned cellphone tower.

The South Jacksonville Zoning Board unanimously approved the rezone of 317 West Vandalia from residential to public access in order to build and locate a 195-foot cell phone tower for use by AT&T last night. Director of External & Legislative Affairs for AT&T Deno Perdiou was in attendance to answer any remaining questions.

After the zoning board of appeals gave its stamp of approval on the project after a short question and answer session, the Village Board of Trustees took its turn of a first reading of the rezoning. Village President Dick Samples says he wants a few things in the lease with AT&T about any possible radio communication interference that may occur due to the tower’s proximity to the Police and Fire Department station on Sequoia Drive: “I want a clause in there that in any event that there is some type of interference caused by them or anybody else that is on that tower (because you know they are going to sell spots on this tower for other communication or whatever) that it’s not going to interfere with our police and/or our fire department radio frequencies or transmission. I wanted to put in a monetary thing of $100 minimum to $500 a day to get somebody’s attention. That was the main idea of that whole thing. I know that they talked about the federal government requirements demand they take care of it. I don’t care. I really don’t care. I want something that we can have our teeth into [a situation] that Boom! there it is in the lease.”

Another piece that Zoning Board Chairman Larry Moore pointed out was ensuring that the tower had the strongest wind rating upon its construction due to its proximity to homes and the police and fire station as well as Ameren’s substation. Perdiou said that AT&T would be amendable to having both of those pieces included in the lease.

Samples says that AT&T has been consistent in saying that the new tower wouldn’t be a cure-all for the village’s poor cellular service: “They mentioned both times of someone being right very close to the tower and not having very good reception. Again, that’s not the Village’s fault. That’s something that AT&T and you, the customer, will have to work out. It is not a 100% cure-all that it is going to boost the transmission part of cell service.”

Samples says that lack of service possibly includes Lake Jacksonville. Kelly Hall, the former head of the City of Jacksonville’s Parks & Lakes Department and a seasonal mainstay at the lake asked that the tower get built in a letter submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Samples believes that the new tower in South Jacksonville may not cover the lake: “Kelly Hall mentioned about Lake Jacksonville having poor reception. Truthfully, in my opinion, if they want better reception out there, they need to construct another tower out there because it’s going to be out of AT&T’s range.”

Ratification of the vote for the tower’s rezone is expected to occur at the Village of South Jacksonville Board of Trustees scheduled committee of the whole on July 27th.