FOX RIVER GROVE – A proposed AT&T cellphone monopole at the Norge Ski Jump took a blow Thursday.
During a sometimes emotional meeting, the Village Board voted 4-2 against the plan for a proposed 120-foot cell tower. The board then directed its staff to prepare a written decision with reasons for the denial, which will come back for a vote in April.
AT&T wants to build a 120-foot cellphone monopole at the Norge Ski Jump Club. AT&T announced at the meeting the tower request was reduced from 140 feet.
Village ordinance allows for cell towers to be built up to 100 feet tall on business-zoned lots. Norge is in a business-zoned lot, but because AT&T wants to go past the village height limits, the plan needs a variance approved by the village.
After Thursday’s vote, Andrew Flowers, who is a real estate and construction manager for AT&T, said there are a lot of options open to the phone service provider.
“We’ll wait for the board to make their final decision, and AT&T would make the final decision after that,” Flowers said.
The club already has antennas on its 173-foot-tall ski jump, but AT&T representatives and their consultants from National Wireless said the jump can’t take on the weight of additional antennas.
Village President Bob Nunamaker said aesthetics could not play a role in the board’s decision.
Trustees Michael Schiestel and Andrew Migdal voted in favor of allowing the tower to move forward.
Schiestel said he was concerned the village would risk a potential lawsuit by AT&T, as the federal government has made it difficult for municipalities to restrict wireless carriers.
Trustee Steve Knar, who voted against the cell tower plan, flipped his position from previous votes.
“AT&T did not provide the evidence regarding the structural capabilities of the jump and why they couldn’t go there,” Knar said.
The cell tower, which is being designed to hold additional carriers, would be located southeast of ski jump on the club’s property.
National Wireless Ventures has said AT&T and Norge have entered into a long-term agreement and revenue from additional carriers would be split between AT&T and Norge.
Norge Ski Club Trustee Scott Immens said having the additional tower would help bring revenue to the ski jump club, which helps teach youngsters the sport.
“Any revenue brought into the club is done for that purpose,” Immens said.
AT&T says the tower is needed to keep up with the increased demand of data and voice use on cellphones.
Flowers said AT&T just acquired Cricket and LTE network frequencies.
“As we’re moving into the future, LTE, that’s what carrying all the data today,” Flowers said. “We look at it today, and three years and five years down the road ... Where we stand today, we need the tower regardless of the bands of frequencies we have. We do not have the capability, the capacity to carry the data and phone calls that are coming in that our customers are asking for.”
Robert Stapleton, president of National Wireless Ventures, said this tower would help provide coverage within a 1.5- to 2-mile radius of the location.
The investment in the tower, which would be more than $500,000, would help improve coverage along Route 14 and Route 22 and up to the Fox River, the company has said.
Nunamaker said he didn’t hear of people having trouble with service. “You have a map, with a hole, but nobody notices,” Nunamaker said.
During the meeting, some residents yelled out their complaints about how the tower would adversely affect property values and spoke over representatives answering questions about the cell tower and Village Board members.
Jake Fleischmann, who lives near the ski jump, brought a petition with 140 signatures of people who said they didn’t want the tower built and brought concerns of decreasing home values and aesthetics.
Resident Judy Mascolino also spoke out again against the tower.
“You’re changing the skyline,” Mascolino said. “You’re putting in an ugly industrial thing in our ... little town. We don’t need it. There’s no necessity for it.”