BY JENNIFER BAILEY
AT&T can build its cell phone tower near Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.
The city has issued AT&T a building permit for the tower to be erected on Aqua Illinois property just west of Logan Avenue.
According to Danville Planning and Zoning Manager Chris Milliken, AT&T applied for the permit and it was approved and issued by the city based upon revised plans. Federal Aviation Administration approval was also needed for the tower lighting.
Construction can now start anytime, but Milliken said he was told by the applicant that more than likely it will be at least a couple of months yet before the work starts, perhaps even after the first of the year. The permit won’t expire until May 1, 2013.
AT&T officials have said the tower could be constructed by early next year, February or March.
Once the FAA approval was granted, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer had said the building permit could be issued.
The controversial cell phone tower will have general aviation obstruction lights at mid-point and on top. The aviation obstruction lights have a strobe effect to them as they will be blinking, according to Milliken.
It is the same lighting that is attached to any other antenna/structure more than 200 feet tall, he added.
The issuance of the building permit comes three months after the Danville Zoning Board of Appeals’ hearing on the issue on July 23.
While board members approved the AT&T-requested variance for the tower, it was noted that additional research would be conducted prior to the issuance of any building permits.
The variance allowed a 199-foot tall telecommunication tower at 1300 W. Fairchild St., in lieu of the allowed 150-foot height limit at that location. The tower will be located on vacant land Aqua owns north of its water treatment plant in the northeast corner of its fenced-in area.
Aqua Illinois will lease the land to AT&T for the tower.
Concerns were voiced by the public and aldermen, particularly Ward 7 Alderman Bill Black, about the tower’s proximity to the hospital’s helicopter pad. The helicopter pad sits about 900 to 1,000 feet away from the tower.
A helicopter demonstration last month provided some visual and verbal reassurance from helicopter pilots that the proposed cell phone tower isn’t a concern for flying helicopters in and out of the hospital for medical transport.
The pilots were more concerned about making sure there would be lighting on the tower.
But Black, at a city council meeting earlier this month, said he appreciated the helicopter demonstration, but the “weather was perfect,” with the wind non-existent, and the crane leaned to the north and it was many feet short of the planned tower height.
He said the city council can’t overturn the zoning board of appeals’ decision.
“It’s over. I’m done. I tried,” Black said. “I hope absolutely nothing goes wrong.”
City officials are reviewing possible changes to the make-up of the zoning board of appeals and the process for approving future zoning variances.