Western Springs hosts 5G town hall meeting, residents voice concerns

Quinn Riordan, reporter and photographer

The Village of Western Springs held a town hall meeting in the LT SC Corral on Feb. 13, to discuss residents’ concerns over the implementation of 5G technology. The Corral was packed for two hours with residents, village board members, public officials and representatives. The attendees expressed their opinions and learned about the fate of the new technology within their towns.

“The public is raising concern about wireless technology and the law that protects it, including the effects of radiofrequency radiation on human health and other living organisms, the loss of privacy and basic rights and the loss of property back to name a few,” Stop5G representative Dr. Moira Zellner said.

5G is a widely unknown, yet quick-spreading new wireless technology for digital cellular networks, such as cell phones, autonomous cars, medical devices and more. It is projected to allow exponentially faster download and upload speeds than the previous 4G technology, Western Springs Village Board Trustee Bill Siffermann said.

Illinois Senate bills and a Federal Presidential Directive from 2018 state that municipalities cannot regulate the placement of any particular small cell facilities, municipal law lawyer Jim Rhodes said.

“The industry states that securing 5G networks will be absolutely vital to America’s prosperity and national security in the 21st century,” Rhodes said. “You can see that the small cell providers did a very good marketing job with respect to the federal government and state government, stating the benefits of 5G.”

The use of little to no evidence to back the proposed benefits and the fear of radiation effects are leaving many asking for reports and more information from scientists and health officials. However, representatives from the telecommunications company and public health officials did not attend the town hall, leaving many questions unanswered.

“As a scientist and as a citizen, it stresses me to see the use of partial information at best and misleading information at worst, to justify legislation that ends up harming the public,” Zellner said. “In the case of wireless technology, the small wireless facility’s deployment backed by several of our state representatives and others shown earlier tonight, took the decision of taking power away from local government and its constituents.”

Residents utilized the town hall meeting to ask questions and voice concerns about the growing implementation of 5G within Illinois and its smaller residential towns.

“We lack so much information on the impact of 5G on our health,” Western Springs resident Lisa Dienes said. “I’m not comfortable having our neighborhood infiltrated with this new technology. I’m not interested in my children being the guinea pigs for how this technology impacts our health.”

The town hall has allowed legislative representatives and officials to listen to the concerns of the people. They will then utilize this information to implement them in current bills or amendments to gain back further municipal control and ensure the safety and economic security of the residents, Rhodes said.

“The state and federal governments have taken away our private rights in the name of progress branded by the industry,” Zellner said.