City Might Rack Up “Meni-Fees” In AT&T Lawsuit

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After the Menifee Planning Commission and City Council denied a request by AT&T in December 2019 to build a tower, the telecom has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court against the city. According to Menifee 24/7, AT&T is asking the court to overrule the rejection, claiming the city’s denial “has effectively prohibited AT&T from closing a significant coverage gap in the provision of wireless service” in the area. The telecom is also seeking reimbursement of any costs associated with the lawsuit.

 The project — a 70-foot tower camouflaged as a clock tower — was proposed for placement in Wheatfield Park and, according to AT&T, would not be a visual distraction or pose threats to residents. Based on residents’ complaints regarding installation in the middle of a public park where children play, council members denied the tower request.

AT&T officials argue that the area surrounding Wheatfield Park has a lack of sufficient coverage, and federal law requires adequate coverage in case of emergency response situations. Menifee 24/7 reported that the Wheatfield Park site was the only site in the area where the property owner agreed to lease a location to AT&T.

 At the December meeting where the tower was denied, council members asked AT&T to seek an alternate location, including vacant land adjacent to a nearby freeway. To date, the telecom had not received “a viable response” from that owner, according to an AT&T representative. In addition, AT&T has submitted a separate proposal to improve cell coverage in an area farther south in Menifee with a tower disguised as a water tank. The Planning Commission will meet this week to consider the application.

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