Flower Hill denies all 18 cell nodes

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Flower Hill village board at its third public hearing on its 18 cell node applications in July. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

Flower Hill’s seven trustees voted unanimously to deny ExteNet’s application to install 18 small cell nodes throughout the village’s right of ways on Tuesday. The move was met with words of gratitude and applause from many members of the audience. 

In a post on the village’s website, the board outlined its decision to deny the application, saying it was primarily due to ExteNet’s failure to specify the exact locations of the proposed cell nodes despite village requests to clarify the matter.

The application was also found to be incompatible with the village code and relevant criteria governing cell nodes that included aesthetics, mitigation efforts, available alternatives, wireless service coverage and alleged gaps or improvements, according to the village website.  

ExteNet, a wireless infrastructure provider contracted by Verizon to install devices to support its 4G network, filed the application in the village in April. Since then, the village has hosted a series of public hearings in which many hours of public comment were heard. 

At the hearings, many residents raised concerns about the cell devices’ potential impact on the health of their children and themselves. However, ExteNet representatives said their tests have shown that outside of a 15-foot radius of the antenna, radiofrequency emissions fall to 1 percent of the permissible level allowed by the federal government.

The board maintains that it did not consider comments on potential health effects when making its decision, as stated on the village website.

The village board said that ExteNet did not identify substantial gaps in cellphone coverage and how the proposed devices would improve service. 

The post said that ExteNet also failed to submit a final design for the utility poles that would hold the proposed cell nodes. At a community meeting hosted by ExteNet last month, a number of poles were presented to residents and village officials. The poles “were suited for urban and suburban land use areas not characteristically similar to the Village’s single-family dwellings” which do not have overhead utility lines along the narrow roads, according to the post. 

The board also found the gathering to “be inconsistent with the special use permit process for ExteNet to engage in vague alternative development proposals with more detailed site plans of what will be installed to be provided at a later date,” the village website states. 

According to the post, ExteNet failed to adequately address why two of the proposed antennas were mounted at a higher elevation than the other 16 cell nodes, as well as additional comments set forth in a report by the village’s consulting firm, CityScape Consultants, in respect to several other nodes.

Trustees contend that ExteNet’s lack of finalized locations and designs inhibited their ability to make determinations in respect to the cell nodes’ noise levels, radio frequency levels, the village’s ability to support additional equipment and whether the design met aesthetic requirements. 

In unrelated business, Flower Hill trustees approved a new right-of-way policy that would require rocks to be placed at least two feet from the road. However, Deputy Mayor Brian Herrington said the rule will be worked out with residents on a case-by-case basis. 

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