American Tower Challenges Uniti Over Small Town Site

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The city council in Menagha, MN voted to re-approve a previously granted conditional use permit (CUP) for Uniti Towers LLC, according to the Park Rapids Enterprise. The CUP will allow the telecom to proceed with plans to erect a 300-foot cell tower on a plot zoned as agricultural-residential. The original site was adjusted by 200 feet to prevent a guyed wire from being anchored in a soggy area.

American Tower Corporation challenged the approval on the objections that Uniti’s involvement was a duplication of coverage it already provides. The complaint also alleges that another tower does not serve the public good.

Uniti’s legal representative argued that no city rules were violated, especially since the code was written in 1978, before cell towers dotted the landscape. The most recent construction plans submitted by Uniti, took into account the ground conditions and adjusted the location without encroaching further on residential space, reported the Park Rapids Enterprise. The plans also clarified the tower height was requested as 312 feet, to accommodate a lightning rod and lights.

A public hearing was held and both sides were heard. Speaking on behalf of American Tower Corporation, attorney Nick Delaney called the proposed cell tower, “unnecessary” and “detrimental to the community.” Uniti’s attorney, Scott Buell, countered that claim, saying a new tower, “is necessary for public convenience in that we’re building a nice, new structure. This is a different company, and now there is a different option for carriers — a kind of development mindset.”

The incoming mayor spoke up in favor of postponing a decision until the new council was seated. One council member backed the tower as part of the city’s capital improvement plans. Pragmatic council member Roger Henstorf asked if the city would be setting a bad precedent by refusing this CUP when another retail store comes into town. “I don’t think the city should be in the position of saying which business can come in,” he told the Enterprise.

March 4, 2019

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