Court Finds Four Reasons to Uphold Eco-Site Permit Denial

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The outcome of a lawsuit between Eco-Site LLC and the Town of Cedarburg affirmed the latter’s authority to deny a conditional use permit to build a tower, per Stafford Rosenbaum LLP. Cedarburg rejected the application on four bases.

The Town Board found the tower (1) would likely reduce property values and (2) pose dangers to public health, safety, and welfare. 

They also determined that (3) the placement of the tower was incompatible with land uses on adjacent land. The final reason (4), under state law, found that Eco-Site did not comply with Wisconsin’s “search ring” requirement. 

Eco-Site argued that the Town made zoning decisions based on aesthetics. In the denial letter, Eco-Site noted that the mere presence of “aesthetic language” is a breach of the federal Telecommunications Act. 

However, the Circuit Court found that the Town’s denial of the cell tower CUP application was permissible, supported by substantial evidence, and not “just another way of saying aesthetics,” according to Stafford Rosenbaum LLP. The Court also noted that concerns over reduced property values were valid and stated that an application could be denied for reasons relating to aesthetics, just not “based solely on aesthetic concerns.”

Judge Reilly also stated that Eoc-Site failed to demonstrate that existing locations or co-location could not meet the public’s communication needs. The Court’s decision represents an important acknowledgment of municipalities’ regulatory authority over cell tower siting, and Stafford Rosenbaum LLP advises that if a city denies a permit, it should ensure that it finds multiple non-aesthetic reasons for the denial. 

October 4, 2019   

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