By JASON DUARTE For The Sun
Saying it was a threat to the nearby Springbrook Prairie, the Naperville Plan Commission voted Wednesday against approving the construction of a telecommunications cell tower at 2191 Plainfield-Naperville Road in Naperville, near Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve.
Forest preserve attorney Paul Mitchell said in 1986 the forest preserve acquired the land and approved the construction of a fire station.
"I can assure you that if it said for other reasons, the district never would have conveyed this property to the city," Mitchell said. "We cooperated with the city. Now as the president of the forest preserve said, we get a slap in the face."
Dan Voiland, Naperville's telecommunication manager, said out of the three spots they looked at, two have been leased out by the city, leaving the Plainfield-Naperville Road location the only alternative.
Naperville resident and forest preserve volunteer Joe Suchecki spoke in opposition to the proposal, saying the aesthetic impact it will have on the grassland will be a detriment to birdwatchers, joggers and anyone who goes to the forest preserve. The firefighters are also opposed to the placement of the cell tower, Suchecki said. No one from the Fire Department showed up to speak on the issue.
"There has to be better options," Suchecki said. "It doesn't seem the city has made other efforts."
Suchecki also commented on how it would increase bird mortality rates, saying that since birds migrate mostly at night, they can be forced down under certain weather conditions during flight and hit the tower.
Voiland said the Plainfield-Naperville Road location is optimal because it will not only serve its purpose connecting DuPage County's and Will County's emergency systems, but broaden cellular service range.
The staff supported it, saying the monopole design is the least impacting style of tower and the structure is designed to withstand and exceed wind capacity for the area.
Ultimately, the board voted against the construction of the cell tower, with Bill Jepson, Reynold Sterlin and John Herzog supporting the plan.
"Public safety is critical and environment elementals are critical," McElroy said. "Springbrook is a true treasure. Eighteen-hundred acres in the middle of a mid-sized city is amazing and it needs to be protected."
President Mike Brown commended Voiland on his work, saying they found the best possible place with regard to his job but not with regard to the impact on Naperville as a whole.
"In my mind, we are violating the spirit of that agreement and I have a problem with that. I think we can satisfy the requirements elsewhere."