Small Cell Wireless Facilities

Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act

The Illinois Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, 50 ILCS 840/1, et seq. controls the deployment of small cell facilities and specifically prohibits Home Rule municipalities from exercising home rule authority to regulate in areas of State and federal jurisdiction. The Act is the State law which governs how local governments must license or permit the erection of small wireless facilities within their jurisdiction. The Act grants wireless carriers the right to place small wireless facilities in the rights-of-way, subject to reasonable local regulations which are not inconsistent with the law. We cannot impose a moratorium as the Act does not permit a municipality to pass a moratorium preventing permit applications from being reviewed. The Act does, however, allow delayed action by a municipality on permit applications in limited circumstances, including local, State or federal disaster declarations, including circumstances such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, which cause the delay.

What the Village Can Do

Under the Act, the Village is authorized only to do the following: 50 ILCS 835/1

  • Require that small wireless facilities does not interfere with the frequencies used by a public safety agency for public safety communications; a wireless provider shall install small wireless facilities of the type and frequency that will not cause unacceptable interference with a public safety agency’s communications equipment;
  • Require that the wireless provider comply with applicable spacing requirements in applicable codes and ordinances concerning the location of ground-mounted equipment located in the right-of-way if the requirements include a waiver, zoning, or other process that addresses wireless provider requests for exception or variance and do not prohibit granting of such exceptions or variances;
  • Require that the wireless provider comply with generally applicable standards that are consistent with this Act and adopted by an authority for construction and public safety in the rights-of-way, including, but not limited to, reasonable and nondiscriminatory wiring and cabling requirements, grounding requirements, utility pole extension requirements, and signage limitations; and shall comply with reasonable and nondiscriminatory requirements that are consistent with this Act and adopted by an authority regulating the location, size, surface area and height of small wireless facilities, or the abandonment and removal of small wireless facilities;
  • Require that the wireless provider comply with the applicable codes and local code provisions or regulations that concern public safety;
  • Require site specific structural integrity analysis is provided by a structural engineer.

The Village can subject small wireless facilities to zoning review in the zoning districts when located outside the right-of-way. We can evaluate applications for permits in the right of way for obstruction to safe use of pedestrians and vehicles. We can enforce regulations concerning capacity of a pole to structurally support the deployment. We can limit height, bulk and location, subject to appeal by the wireless provider. We can require compliance with existing FCC rules and state law. 

What the Village Cannot Do

  • Require that the applicant place small wireless facilities on any specific utility or category of utility poles.
  • Regulate the level of acceptable radio frequency emissions.
  • Refuse outright or pass a moratorium on applications for installation of small wireless facilities.