Under Threat: Western Springs Settles With 5G Firm
Town trustees approve settlement amid “imminent” litigation.
March 24, 2023 10:42 AM CDT | Updated March 24, 2023 10:45 am. CDT
WESTERN SPRINGS, IL – Western Springs officials didn’t mince words this week in explaining why they are agreeing to settle with a wireless provider.
“We are at a point where the town is facing imminent litigation if the (Town Council) does not take action on the settlement agreement tonight,” said Town Manager Ellen Baer at Monday’s council meeting.
The village’s attorney, Michael Jurusic, added, “It’s a function of trying to avoid litigation. That’s where we are today — under the threat of litigation.”
The deal was with Houston-based Crown Castle, which works for Verizon. It plans at least 30 5G antennas on Western Springs’ west side.
Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills are in the process of entering into similar agreements with Crown Castle.
Last year, Crown Castle submitted a test application for a 5G antenna in Western Springs. After the village listed what it saw as numerous deficiencies in the company’s application, Crown Castle objected, saying the village was overstepping its authority.
The federal and state governments prohibit towns from regulating the health and safety aspects of 5G antennas. But towns do have power over their aesthetics.
“We’ve been at this for a long time,” Jurusic told the board. “It’s a very measured approach to trying to resolve an issue that has been discussed and reviewed.”
At the meeting, residents raised a number of issues with the agreement. Among them were how the company would decommission its equipment and how the town would deal with radio frequency emissions.
Jurusic responded that the town code and state law cover the abandonment and removal of such equipment.
As for radio frequency permits, he said this issue was “unfortunately” out of the town’s hands.
Residents have long objected to the prospect of 5G antennas, saying they would harm their health and the town’s appearance.
The board unanimously supported the settlement, with trustee Heidi Rudolph prefacing her vote by saying, “Recognition of our authority.”
Village President Alice Gallagher, who has lobbied state lawmakers to change the state’s wireless antenna regulations, did not attend Monday’s meeting due to illness. She died the next day.
One of her speeches to lawmakers remains online.