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Illinois towns prepare for new small cell towers

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Fifth Generation (5G) data service may soon be coming to Illinois. Adding 5G should provide another leap in speed and reliability to internet service around the state. But the new technology requires new physical infrastructure. Unlike the giant cell towers used be previous generations, 5G uses “small cell” towers to provide coverage. Small cell towers take up just a few cubic feet of space. Because of their size, these towers can be placed on existing utility poles and other structures.

In April, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law to help facilitate the rollout of the new technology. This bill greatly constrains the ability of municipalities to restrict how and where the small cell towers could be installed. It also capped the fees that municipalities could charge cell providers to use their poles. These caps preempted existing ordinances, including those in Springfield and Chatham.

The timer starts

The new law became effective on June 1st. Even though the old ordinances had been preempted, cities were only given two months to draft new ordinances. According to Jacksonville’s City Attorney Daniel Beard, the time constrains add another challenge to an already complex issue. Fortunately, the Illinois Municipal League has helped by providing a sample ordinance for cities to work off of.

Both the Jacksonville City Council and Chatham Village Board discussed this issue at their last meetings. Jacksonville approved drafting the new rules, and should be discussing them at their next meeting. Chatham is likewise actively looking to replace their old ordinance. They should have little trouble adopting a new ordinance by the deadline.

But Springfield may be less prepared on this issue. While several aldermen I spoke with were aware that Springfield’s old rules had been preempted, they were not aware of any new ordinance coming through the pipeline. Mayor Jim Langfelder explained that Springfield has a complex relationship with cell provider AT&T, which has delayed adopting new rules. He assured me that new rules are being drafted, and thinks they should be ready before the August 1st deadline.

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

Crime

Springfield Police tell residents: lock your cars

Staff Contributor

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Springfield is dealing with a city-wide issue of cars being broken into. From the 13th to the 16th, 35 cars were broken into. These incidents happened all over the city. Chief Winslow was asked to discuss this situation at last night’s city council meeting.

Winslow had a very simple message for Springfield residents: lock your cars. Although some of the incidents did involve breaking a car’s window, the overwhelming majority did not. 30 of the 35 break-ins were to unlocked vehicles. Thieves were simply checking the handles of cars to find ones that were unlocked. This is not to excuse the criminal activity, but locking your doors is a key step for your protection.

He went on to say that valuables should not be stored in vehicles; and if they must be, they should be out of sight. If thieves do not see anything worth stealing, they will be much less likely to break in. In addition to items like phones and GPS units, garage door openers are items that are often stolen. Once a thief has the garage door opener, the home becomes vulnerable to burglary as well.

The police are still working to catch those individuals responsible for the break-ins. Five individuals have been arrested, but it is believed that there are many more still out there. Suspects include both juveniles and adults. If you see something suspicious, call the dispatch number 217-788-8311. Don’t call  your local police officer in these situations; they may not be on duty and so will not answer right away. If you have other information, especially pictures or video, share it with the police. Just putting it on social media will not ensure the police get access to it.

Take the time to make sure your doors are locked. This is a city-wide issue, and it will take a city-wide effort to deal with it.

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Springfield approves YMCA TIF, tavern rezoning

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Springfield YMCA’s upgrade took a step forward at tonight’s city council meeting. $5.9 million in TIF funding was approved for the new facility planned for Enos Park. TIF money will be drawn from both the Enos Park and Downtown TIF funds. This money is only a small portion of the nearly $35 million project. Representatives from the YMCA said that the project could not go forward without the TIF support from the city.

Although the aldermen stated their support for the upgrade, the use of TIF money raised some issues. Because the YMCA is a nonprofit, it will not directly provide any “increment” to the tax base. Even those who otherwise support nonprofits often consider it inappropriate to use TIF money in this way. However, aldermen pointed out that in addition to the $35 million construction project the YMCA is providing, the project should do other things to generate new growth. Hopefully, the new structure will foster development to itself, and better connect the medical districts with downtown.

The real benefit of TIF projects was also touched on in the discussion. Both Alderwoman Dicenso and Alderman McMenamin mentioned the Hy-Vee TIF project. While they both said that Hy-Vee itself was a boon to McArthur Boulevard, Dicenso had a less favorable characterization of how much additional activity that TIF generated.

The TIF funding for the YMCA was approved unanimously.

Rezoning Melrose St.

An old bar location may be getting a second life in Ward 2. 1510 Melrose St. was approved for rezoning to potentially allow a tavern to be opened in the old Sandtrap Bar location. Although the new owners are seeking a tavern license, their stated goal is to be more of a convince store with video gambling. Aldermen Senor supported the new endeavor. He said that if the council continued to vote down rezoning for businesses, it would be increasingly difficult to say Springfield is business friendly.

But several neighbors of the property were opposed to the project. Citing a lack of parking and increased noise, they felt the store would not be a good addition to their neighborhood. Opponents pointed out how close the location is to residential areas, and how many children live in the area. The location also has a bad reputation. Even the new owners admitted that there had been serious problem in the past. However, they said that the hyper focus they would be under would ensure they were a good neighbor.

The rezoning was approved 8-1-1, with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present. This only changed the zoning of the location. They will still need to get a liquor and gaming license to actually operate the proposed business.

You can watch the full meeting in the player. The zoning hearing starts around the 15 minute mark, the YMCA TIF starts around the 70 minute mark.

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What to expect from President Trump’s nominee

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The Hon. Amy C. Barrett and the Hon. Diane S. Sykes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame and the Wisconsin Court System

Two federal judges from Illinois’ northern district are on President Donald Trump’s shortlist to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump told reporters that he would announce his pick to replace the Kennedy on Monday evening. Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy was often the swing vote that sided with the liberal end of the court on matters including “in particular, gay rights, and sometimes abortion and even more occasionally race,” said Carolyn Shapiro, associate law professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Law.

Two judges from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court in Chicago are reportedly being considered: Appellate Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Diane Sykes. Neither live in Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed to Judges Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman as two that “presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed,” according to a report from the New York Times.

The likely topic of questions that would come from the Senate for any nominee, Shapiro said, would be about their views on abortion due to a potential challenge to Roe v. Wade. Since Illinois passed House Bill 40, which contained a trigger that would make a national ruling on abortion less of a factor locally, it wouldn’t have near the effect that a ruling changing the legal status of abortion in the U.S. would elsewhere.

“[HB 40] has a lot of guarantees where, regardless of what happens to Roe v. Wade, women will still have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in the state,” she said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner shocked Republicans by signing the bill into law. The backlash against the bill was a factor in the freshman governor facing a hard-fought primary challenge in March.

As for the changing dynamic of the court, Shapiro said she expects more cases regarding free speech and its relation to regulation, akin to Janus v. AFSCME, to come before the court in the future.

 

Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

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