State says Danville cell tower wouldn't affect Provena helipad

State says Danville cell tower wouldn't affect Provena helipad

DANVILLE — The Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics has determined that a proposed AT&T Wireless cellular tower immediately northwest of Provena United Samaritans Medical Center will not compromise the helicopter landing pad on the north side of the hospital.

But city officials still have the situation under review and have made no decision yet on whether to issue AT&T Wireless a permit to build the tower.

IDOT officials informed city officials in writing on Wednesday that the proposed tower would not compromise the helicopter approach to the helipad.

But Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said the city has received additional information that still needs administrative review.

"We will once again analyze all of the data and information we have received to this point to determine what other questions need to be answered before making any other decisions," he said.

City officials have delayed issuing AT&T Wireless a permit for the proposed 199-foot cell tower, so they could seek input from the Federal Aviation Administration and IDOT concerning the tower's proximity to the hospital helipad.

The FAA has already signed off on the location of the proposed tower, and city officials had been awaiting input from IDOT.

Some local residents and one alderman have raised concerns that the tower could pose a safety hazard to the emergency helicopters that fly in and out of Provena's Danville facility. Danville Alderman Bill Black, Ward 7, said at Tuesday night's city council meeting that he also believes it's a bad idea to allow the tower at the proposed location and believes it should be an issue decided by the city council.

The helicopter landing pad is on the north side of the hospital. The tower would be built about 1,000 feet from the helipad on a site immediately northwest of the hospital on Aqua Illinois property, which is the site of its water treatment facility along the North Fork River.

AT&T has a proposed lease agreement with Aqua that would allow the tower to be built on the water treatment facility property, which is at a much lower elevation than the hospital. Because of the lower elevation and the trees surrounding the site to the west and north, AT&T proposed building a 199-foot tower, 49 feet higher than the city's regulations allow.

Last month, AT&T applied to the city for a variance from those regulations. Per city ordinance, the variance was handled by the city's zoning board of appeals and does not require city council approval. The city has several other towers that also exceed the 150-foot regulation, according to Chris Milliken, the planning and zoning manager for the city.

In late July, the zoning board of appeals approved the variance for the AT&T tower at a public hearing, but two residents voiced concerns to the board that the tower could be a hazard to the emergency helicopters. City officials notified neighbors in the area, including hospital officials, of AT&T's plans and the variance hearing, and no one from Provena attended the hearing to object.

Earlier this month, Provena CEO Mike Brown released a statement stating that the hospital is not for or against the proposed tower, and as long as it doesn't cause any disruption to its emergency services, it would have no opposition to the tower.

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