As the city of Mitchell prepares to welcome 4G and 5G technology, representatives of Verizon Wireless made their pitch to construct small cell facilities to the Mitchell City Council Monday at City Hall.

Sarah Meuli and Jeff Armour, representatives of Verizon Wireless, presented several options that the large cell phone carrier can provide for implementing technology in the city of Mitchell. Small cell facilities is the term used for 4G and 5G small cell antennas and equipment that’s typically mounted on utility poles or other support structures, generally under 30 feet.

Meuli emphasized the need for South Dakota municipalities with denser populations such as Mitchell to implement small cell facilities, citing the growth of cell phone usage and the data it requires.

“Data demands are increasing on a daily basis at a rate that carriers are really fighting to keep up with,” Meuli said. “With people snapchatting, tweeting and downloading in highly populated areas, the need for small cells helps cities keep up with the growing data demands.”

According to Meuli, over the next three years, the increase in data usage is estimated to increase five times more than what is used today.

In order to implement the technology that Meuli and Armour pitched, Verizon is mandated to pay the city a cost to install the small cell facilities. Should the council choose to use Verizon as its small cell facility provider, Armour said the city has to choose the cost per pole. Armour noted that the state of South Dakota has not adopted any state regulations; thus, the carriers such as Verizon will need to work with each city.

“Many communities see the 4G and 5G technology as an economic driver, because it gives communities faster wireless speed,” Armour said. “The bottom line is that we’re asking the city to come to a price range that we can actually make a capital investment as a company, while boosting your community.”

Armour broke down the cost of the implementation of small cell facilities, which he said is figured by the Federal Communications Commission. He said the cost per pole is based on actual fees for the construction and maintenance of the small cell facilities. Armour used Yankton’s $100 per pole fixed price as an example of what a similar-sized South Dakota community pays for the small cell facilities.

As of now, Mitchell has the cost set at $270 per pole, which Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said was decided based off the FCC's reasonable price suggestion. In response, Armour said $270 is the FCC’s maximum price it sees as reasonable.

Armour pitched a price that Verizon sees as a reasonable option for the small cell facilities, which ranged from $85 to $100 per pole.

Everson suggested the city continue discussions among the council before meeting with Verizon, and bring a cost estimate of the price range.

“We still don’t know who pays for the power for this,” Everson said. “When you say you want unmetered power, well, who’s paying for that?”

With the uncertainty of Everson’s concerns, the council agreed to further discuss options of welcoming the technology.

Meuli provided examples of how larger metropolitan areas have implemented the small cell facility antennas throughout larger cities such as Minneapolis and Des Moines. Meuli provided photographs of small cell facility antenna installed on existing light poles in Minneapolis.

Meuli highlighted how the small cell facility antennas have the capability of blending into utility poles and light poles, and said hiding the antennas as much as possible is the goal for the aesthetic look. According to Meuli, the size of the antennas are roughly 2-by-3 feet and can be placed in areas selected by the city.

“We are able to have the small cell facilities be hidden in plain sight, and we pride ourselves on that,” Meuli said.

Meuli reiterated existing cell phone towers will remain in place. However, the installation of the small cell facilities would pave the way for allowing quicker downloading times and increased data usage. While the city has yet to decide whether it will implement 4G and 5G technology, the ordinance the council approved in December 2018 paved the way for the city to choose a wireless carrier to bring 4G and 5G technology to the community.

Armour highlighted a statistic that explains the need for small cell facilities and 4G technology, as he said 90 percent of households in the nation use cell phones for their primary home phone service. He noted how 911 emergency phone calls are impacted by 4G technology, adding better wireless service impacts public safety.

“We saw people increasingly needing to use their wireless phones in a time when it was needed most with the recent floods on Interstate 29,” Meuli said.

Consent agenda

The following items were considered as part of the consent agenda:

  • Approved the minutes of the August 5 council meeting; August 9 special council meeting.

  • Approved the minutes of the July 22 Planning Commission; August 5 Traffic Commission meeting.

  • Approved the following raffle permits: First Circuit CASA with the drawings to be held on September 27 and 28, 2019; VFW with the drawing to be held on September 28, 2019; Trinity Lutheran Church with the drawing to be held on September 29, 2019; Mitchell Ducks Unlimited with the drawing to be held on October 3, 2019.

  • Appointed volunteers to the following boards: Pat Skinner to fill an unexpired term on the Parks and Recreation Board to run from now through July 2020; Mark Vaux to the Planning and Zoning Board for a term to run from now through July 2023; Dennis Marek to the Parks and Recreation Board for a term to run from now through July 2022.

  • Set the date for the following application: September 7, Corn Palace Shrine Club’s application for a special event liquor license located at the Masonic Temple for a birthday party.

  • Set the date for the following hearing: September 16, for the hearing on a special assessment roll for the 2018 construction projects and 2018 nuisance abatements.

  • Approved fireworks permit for the Kernel Bowl.

  • Declared items at city storage building as surplus property.

  • Approved notice of acceptability of work for East Havens Watermain Loop Project No. 2018-25 to Menning Backhoe, LLC.

  • Approved notice of substantial completion and notice of acceptability for the south side Water Tower Painting Project No. 2018-1R to Maguire Iron.

  • Approved gas and fuel quotations.

  • Approved August 19 pay estimates.

  • Approved bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires.

Other business

  • Recited Pledge of Allegiance, received invocation from Resurrection Lutheran, roll call, heard citizens’ input.

  • Met with Traffic Commission at 6 p.m.

  • Approved consent agenda.

  • Held hearings and take action for the following hearings: August 19, Blarney's Sports Bar’s application for a special event liquor license located at the Highland Mall, Mitchell for the December 6th Holiday Spirits; August 19, on the application to Transfer Retail (On-Off Sale) Malt Beverage License RB-25721 from Leisure Time Inc. doing business as The Depot, 210 South Main Street, Mitchell to Depot Mitchell LLC doing business as The Depot, 210 South Main Street, Mitchell, video lottery is not included; August 19, on the application to Transfer Retail (On-Sale) liquor license RL-5763 from Leisure Time Inc. doing business as The Depot, 210 South Main Street, Mitchell to Depot Mitchell LLC doing business as The Depot, 210 South Main Street, Mitchell.

  • Met as Board of Adjustment.

  • Set the date for the following hearings: September 3, Jason and Ramy Norgaard’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential child care center in their home located at 1220 E. Havens Ave., Lot 103, Brendan Mobile Village. The property is zoned R4 High Density Residential District; September 3, Russell Hanson and Jamie Buchholz’s application for a side-yard on a corner variance of 8 feet vs. 20 feet, as required for the purpose of constructing a detached garage on their property located at 520 E. Hanson Ave. The property is zoned R2 Single Family Residential District.

  • Reconvened as City Council.

  • Approved agreement No. A2019-38, community services contract with the Mitchell School District to provide special transportation services.

  • Held a hearing and approved Resolutions No. R2019-58 and 2019-58, Dakota Wesleyan University’s petition for vacation of public right-of-way, along with the addition of a plat of lot C-4, which will allow the construction of the new business center that’s slated to begin in the spring of 2020.

  • Approved the addition of Blake Sabers and Ben Kalovsky to the Main Street BID No. 3 board, bringing the five-person board total to seven.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2019-60, a plat of lot 5 of D. and B. Carlson's first addition, a Subdivision of a portion of the northeast quarter of section 31, township 104 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, Davison County, South Dakota.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2019-61, a plat of lot 9, block 7, Westwood First Addition, a subdivision of the southwest quarter of Section 16, township 103 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city of Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota.

  • Held second reading and tabled the adoption of Ordinance No. O2019-12, which is an ordinance that would allow U-turns at specific areas in the city of Mitchell through the installation of signage.

  • Held second reading and adopted ordinance No. O2019-14, defining appeal board for purposes of chapter 12-1: Flood Damage Prevention; Held second reading and adopted Ordinance No. O2019-15 repealing MCC Chapter 3-5: Arts Council; Held second reading and adopted Ordinance No. O2019-16, repealing MCC Chapter 3-8: Airport Advisory Committee; Held second reading and adopted Ordinance No. O2019-17, repealing MCC Chapter 3-10: Museum Board.

  • Held first reading on Ordinance No. O2019-18, repealing Mitchell City Code Chapter 3-6: Traffic Commission, updating references to said commission, and correcting a reference to the traffic division.