Fox River Grove board OKs 'monopine' design for AT&T

AT&T gets go-ahead on alternate proposal for cell tower at Norge Ski Club

FOX RIVER GROVE – AT&T now has the go-ahead to construct a 107-foot cellphone pole that will have a "monopine" design.

The Village Board on Thursday approved AT&T's alternate design for a cellphone tower location on the Norge Ski Club property.

The 107-foot "monopine" pole will be built to look like a pine tree, while hiding the antennas that send out the cellphone signals.

People won't be able to see the antennas unless they are right next to the structure, said Pete Aimaro, a real estate agent with National Wireless Ventures, AT&T's consultants on the project.

National Wireless project manager Ashley Blaeser said the monopine will blend in when the nearby trees are fully grown and leaves are blooming.

AT&T says it wants to build the cellphone tower to help meet current and future cellphone voice and data demands.

Andrew Flowers, a real estate and construction manager for AT&T, said the new design is about $50,000 to $85,000 more expensive than typical monopoles.

The branches also are made out of fiberglass and put on by hand, he said. Branches on the monopine can be removed and repaired if they're damaged. There would be 85 to 100 branches on the monopine.

"There's a substantial amount of cost and obviously maintenance to keep that up for the next 25 to 30 years," Flowers said.

Work on the monopine is expected to begin toward the end of the summer and take 120 days to complete, Flowers said.

Cellphone towers are allowed in the village, but need a special use permit and are capped at 100 feet tall.

In order for the project to move forward, the Village Board had to approve a variance for the cellphone tower height, as well as the special use permit.

AT&T didn't want to add more antennas onto the Norge ski jump, which already has two carriers with antennas on the jump's support structure, because it would require redesigning the jump by adding more support beams to the 170-foot structure.

He added when a carrier locates on tower, it has to put up about 4,400 pounds of equipment.

"It's almost like putting up a Volkswagen up on top of a tower," Flowers said.

AT&T says the new tower will help improve coverage along Route 14 and Route 22, north to the Fox River.

To house a generator and other equipment, there will be a shelter that is 11.5-by-20 feet, reduced from a 12-by-28-foot shelter.

The new design will have room to co-locate two additional carriers, Aimaro said. 

Flowers said AT&T engineers plan to use a different antenna model, with a little more power, to have a shorter tower. AT&T had previously proposed 140-foot- and 120-foot-tall monopoles, but received push back from nearby residents.

Jake Fleischmann, a resident who has spoken against the project and gathered 140 signatures for a petition from people against the tower, said there is already good coverage for AT&T for both voice and data in the area.

"I"m still a little bit baffled of AT&T's reasoning of putting the tower where they want to put it," Fleischmann said.

He did say after the vote that the monopine design is better than what was originally proposed.

Trustee Steve Knar, who voted in March to initially deny the monopole construction, voted in favor of allowing the monopine design to move forward.

Knar thanked Fleischmann for organizing residents to come and comment on the project.

"We did end up getting a more palatable solution to this," Knar said. "I hope you can take comfort that we reduced the size."

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