State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) announced today new legislation to protect local residents from the proliferation of controversial 5G wireless canisters in suburban communities. “Our neighborhoods welcome technological advances,” Mazzochi said. “But those same neighborhoods also need the right to decide at the local level whether certain aesthetic or safety costs are worth it, Rep. Mazzochi said.
Several neighborhoods in Mazzochi’s district have served as pilot communities for various categories of 5G wireless small cell units, and they are not happy with the early rollout results. After hundreds of Western Springs and Hinsdale residents called for expanded local control over 5G sites, Mazzochi filed House Bill 5818, the “Protect Me From 5G Act.” Mazzochi hopes the bill will be considered in the General Assembly’s Fall Veto session in November.
When the original Small Cell Wireless bill was debated in 2018, communities and legislators were told most new 5G installations would be on existing poles. Since then, local villages have been inundated with permit applications for new towers in front of houses in parkways; neighborhood street corners; and playgrounds. Mazzochi, who took office after the Small Cell Wireless bill was passed, reiterated that “our local municipalities and residents were not informed of the real-world implementation plans under the prior legislation.” With wireless companies converging on neighborhoods to build new installations over the objections of homeowners, Mazzochi explained that “the time to reexamine this legislation is now, and we must give more authorities to communities and homeowners at the local level with the ‘Protect Me From 5G Act.’”
The Western Springs Village Board approved a resolution in support of the legislation and worked closely with Mazzochi to draft language that would suit local residents’ needs. Western Springs Village President Alice Gallagher added, “We’re pleased to work together with Rep. Mazzochi and her staff in drafting this legislation. It’s so important to keep our residents informed on this issue and to do what we can to establish as much local control as possible.”
The “Protect Me from 5G Act” has the following key elements:
- Radio frequency monitoring – Requiring a monitoring plan and tracking and recording daily levels of radio frequency emissions produced by 5G equipment;
- Noise monitoring — Requiring a written report that analyzes acoustic noise levels for small wireless facilities and all associated equipment
- Environmental protection — Requiring a certification of a federal environmental assessment.
- Equipment restrictions – Requiring equipment, when replaced, to be swapped with the smallest commercially used and available equipment.
- Alternate Location Authority – – Allowing local governments to propose new small wireless facilities be installed on existing poles within 200 feet of requested location of a new proposed pole, in order to protect aesthetics and limit the number of new poles.
- Closing application loophole – Clarifying that wireless service providers must submit new applications when seeking to replace existing small wireless facility equipment with significantly different equipment
- Below ground devices — Allowing local governments to require small wireless facilities and related equipment to be below ground as new technology for doing so becomes available.
- Easement rules — Requiring proof of authority when wireless service providers seek to use easements outside of the public way
In addition to the Village of Western Springs, other local villages voiced their support as well.
“We welcome all efforts to increase transparency in this process and provide our residents with more information on new technology,” said Hinsdale Village Trustee Luke Stifflear. For Hinsdale, Trustee Stifflear handles all matters related to small cell wireless technologies and installation. “This is about ensuring we have a say about what goes on in our own community; ensuring we have local control here in Hinsdale.”
“Our aim is twofold: both to bring back local authority for our villages and to give our residents answers to some of their questions about this new technology,” said Clarendon Hills Village President Len Austin. “We’re looking for a more transparent process moving forward.”
Mazzochi has also introduced a companion House Bill 4653, creating the Local Control, Protection, and Empowering Law in the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act as an “avenue” to require a public hearing before 5G devices are approved by local officials.
You can watch video of Rep. Mazzochi’s press conference with Western Springs Village President Alice Gallagher, Hinsdale Village Trustee Luke Stifflear, and Clarendon Hills Village President Len Austin here.