Wheeling board strikes down plan for 84-foot cell tower at school
The Wheeling village board Monday unanimously struck down a proposal for a new 84-foot T-Mobile cell tower on the grounds of Holmes Middle School near the intersection of Wolf Road and Highland Avenue.
Wheeling trustees followed a recommendation from the plan commission, who voted to not recommend approval of the plan Nov. 5. Only one of five commissioners, Paul Zangara, voted at the meeting to recommend approval of the plan.
Residents also spoke in opposition to the proposed tower Monday.
"There's no such thing as a good-looking cellphone tower, I don't care how you disguise them, they are what they are," Wheeling resident Mary Papantos said. "There's no need for safety reasons or emergency reasons to have this tower located in a residential area."
Residents near the proposed location also live near the airport with planes flying overhead, Papantos said, "and they don't need anything else to decrease their property value."
The proposal would have required a special-use permit for the transmission tower in a residential area and a variation to allow for the wireless communication facility on a new structure, rather than an existing one.
Dan VeNard, an attorney with LaDue Curran Kuehn representing Horvath Communications, says they planned on making sure the tower was built with an "inconspicuous profile," and would ensure T-Mobile customers in the area had better coverage and fewer dropped calls.
Horvath and T-Mobile looked at alternative properties including Solex College and Chicago Housing Authority, which both have existing structures, VeNard says, but Holmes Middle School was the best option.
Trustee Bill Hein, on the other hand, said the tower does not belong in a residential zone, and can only be installed on existing equipment.
"The tower, if installed, will alter the residential nature of the area," Hein said.
Village President Dean Argiris said the cell tower was "just a bad fit."
"The residents were right there speaking out against it," he said.
"To me, it just doesn't meet the village variation requirements."