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Friday, April 13, 2018

Small Wireless Facilities Act Enacted Into Law

SB 1451, proposing the establishment of the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, was signed into law yesterday as P.A. 100-0585. This law will affect all municipalities in Illinois (including home rule municipalities with the exception of Chicago). The law takes effect on June 1, 2018.

Section 15 of the new Act restricts the regulatory authority of Illinois municipalities and certain other units of local government over small wireless facilities. Small wireless facilities are defined under the new law as wireless facilities that (1) have antenna that are no more than 6 cubic feet in volume and (2) all equipment associated with the antenna does not cumulatively exceed 25 cubic feet in volume. These are usually attached to existing utility poles or other support structures.

The following is a summary of just some of the restrictions on municipal regulatory authority over small wireless facilities:

  1. The law prohibits municipalities from banning, regulating, or charging for the co-location of small wireless facilities in a manner which is inconsistent with the law.
  2. It also provides that small wireless facilities are considered "permitted uses" for zoning purposes.
  3. It further states that small wireless facilities are not subject to zoning review or approval if they are either (a) co-located in rights of way in any zone or (b) are located outside of rights of way in commercial or industrial zones. However, a municipality can limit the maximum height of a small wireless facility to 10 feet above the utility pole or support structure with a few exceptions.
  4. Municipalities may require permits for co-location of a small wireless facility, and can apply generally applicable standards regarding underground requirements, construction standards for rights of way installations, design standards, and other regulations. However, the municipality cannot require as a condition to permitting that the applicant to perform services unrelated to the co-location (i.e., in-kind contributions, reservation of fiber, etc). The municipality also must process applications within the statutory time period (30 days to determine if the application is complete; if there is no decision within 120 days, the application will be deemed approved). The law mandates approval of an application unless it fails to comply with the requirements of the new law.
  5. Municipalities can reserve space on utility poles for public safety uses or electric utility uses, but that reservation cannot preclude the co-location of small wireless facilities.
  6. Municipalities cannot require the placement of facilities on specific utility poles, or impose minimum horizontal separation distances unless the facility will interfere with public safety communications.
  7. Municipalities may charge an application fee, but it cannot exceed $650.00 for the first co-located facility, and $350 for each additional co-located facility. For small wireless facilities that will include the installation of a new utility, the fee can be $1,000.
  8. The law limits the amount of “rent” or “license fees” which a municipality can collect for providing space on its own utility poles to $200 per year. 

This is just a brief summary of some provisions of the new law - there is a lot more to digest and analyze, so we plan to provide more detailed information about the impact of this law on local governments in future posts

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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