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Concerns high over 5G cellular poles along lakefront

Posted at 6:42 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 19:42:41-05

MILWAUKEE — New legislation could bring 5G cell poles to Milwaukee County Parks and there is little local municipalities can do about it.

During a meeting with the Board of County Supervisors, the Milwaukee County Parks Department explained how legislation signed by Gov. Tony Evers in July makes it easier for cellular companies to install 5G poles. However, Act 14 allows companies to have more selection over where they place these poles.

"As the new legislation has defined them, it opens up park spaces to more access for these small wireless facilities," Jeremy Lucas, Director of Administration and Planning for Milwaukee County Parks said.

The 5G poles are much different than traditional cell phone towers. Rather than one big tower with each individual cellular provider on it, each provider would require its own pole. There would also be many more of them. In order for 5G to work efficiently, the poles need to be placed every 500 to 1,000 feet. So, in theory, each cellular company like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and others could place 30 feet tall 5G poles all along Lincoln Memorial Drive at places like Bradford Beach or Veterans Park.

"It will certainly have an impact on aesthetics and usability of facilities if we're essentially separating road and pathways with a wall of poles," Lucas said. "Really changes the use of our parks."

Lucas said the county would only get $20 per pole, per year as well.

Concerns were high during the meeting with the County Board of Supervisors. They raised many questions about how this would benefit residents in the area.

"The truth is, we're being screwed by the State of Wisconsin by this," Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman said. "Our cost, we're the ones paying the staff, we're the ones to go through our communities, we're the ones who will review licenses and we're being told how much we can charge? That's just not right."

"In a previous slide it said, this country has to win the race to 5G as if this is going to the moon," Supervisor Steven Shea said. "No, it's not. As far as I can tell, it's corporate greed. Corporate takeover of our public spaces."

Tuesday's meeting was only informational but the County Board of Supervisors says they have many questions for their lawyers. They want to see if there is any recourse they can take if a cell company decides to build a 5G pole against the county's wishes.