Cellphone coverage for Verizon and T-Mobile is set to improve, and the Naperville Park District is in line to receive $1.5 million over the next 30 years after the Naperville City Council OK'd a new cell tower Tuesday night.
The 130-foot-tall tower will be on the property of the park district's Springbrook Golf Course at 2220 W. 83rd St. and will be managed by Central States Tower III LLC. The park district is leasing the land to the tower company for $36,000 a year.
City council members, who approved a conditional use to allow the tower to be taller than 60 feet, said the tower's height and aesthetics aren't ideal. But by a 7-2 vote they gave it the go-ahead to help improve a needed communication service.
"We know that this technology is something that all of our residents want," Mayor Steve Chirico said.
Verizon will be the primary user of the tower by installing antennas in the shape of panels at the pole's top reaches. Ray Shinkle, a consultant for Verizon, said T-Mobile already has expressed interest in locating some of its own antennas lower on the tower; AT&T and Sprint could follow.
City council member John Krummen predicts that's exactly what will happen, and he said he's OK with it.
"Once you get Verizon up on top, the rest of the carriers will come and it'll be like a Christmas tree," he said.
If more cell service companies want space on the tower, both Central States and the park district will receive additional lease payments at rates to be set in the future, said Derke Price, attorney for the park district.
Opposition to the cell tower came from residents and two council members who are concerned with aesthetics at the 1,800-acre Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve and with the health of birds migrating through the area.
"To have that clear vista, that clear view, is really important," said council member Becky Anderson, who voted against the tower with council member Rebecca Boyd-Obarski. "We need to keep those open spaces that we have as pure as we can."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed the proposal and determined it will have no effect on endangered species because it will not remove native vegetation or any animal habitat. The tower will be built within a 60-by-60-foot plot on the golf course's 160 acres.
But resident Joe Suchecki, a bird watcher at Springbrook Prairie, said the structure will be a detriment.
"Instead of having a clear horizon," he said, "those seeking a natural environment will forever have a cell tower dominating their view."
The council's approval of this tower is separate from the city's opposition to the state Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, which could give wireless companies the ability to install "small cell" antennas on publicly owned utility poles, streetlights and rights of way.
Chirico said his issue with that proposal is it removes local control over where "small cell" antennas can be.