Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Illinois Legislature Proposes Telecommunications Bill

New telecommunications legislation is pending in the Illinois Senate. The draft bill would, if adopted by the legislature and signed by the Governor, create the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act which would provide that a right of way authority such as a city, village, or county cannot prohibit or regulate the collocation of small wireless facilities or small facility networks.

This legislation would preempt local zoning regulations and deem such small wireless facilities and networks as a “permitted use” in all zoning districts. It would also provide that the right of way authority could require a person to obtain permits for the collocation of small wireless facilities and facility networks to the same extent permits are required for other construction, but such authorities cannot require such applicants to provide information not required of other applicants seeking to use the right of way. The Act would also place a limit on the amount of fees that could be charged to such telecommunications providers. As the legislation currently reads, the fee cannot exceed the amount the authority charges to other commercial entities for the same amount of space, the projected cost of the authority resulting from the collocation, or $1,000 annually, whichever is lowest.

The legislation defines “small wireless facilities” as those that meet the following qualifications:

  1. Each antenna is located inside an enclosure of no more than 6 cubic feet in volume or, in the case of an antenna that has exposed elements, the antenna and all of its exposed elements could fit within an imaginary enclosure of no more than 6 cubic feet; and
  2. All other wireless equipment associated with the structure is cumulatively no more than 28 cubic feet in volume.

The new legislation creates still an additional time clock for right of way authorities. An application is deemed approved if the authority fails to approve or disapprove the application within 30 days. This period may be tolled to accommodate timely requests for information required to complete the application or may be extended by mutual agreement.

Further, the current legislation also contains language that would preempt home rule powers.

As always, we will continue to monitor the bill as it proceeds through the legislative process.

Michael J. Smoron

Author: Michael J. Smoron