Crown Castle Sues Town Over “Unreasonable” Tower Project Delays

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Crown Castle Towers filed a federal lawsuit against Riverhead (NY) for its “unreasonable delays” and “effective denial” of an application filed in May 2020, to build a 120-foot monopole. The Riverhead Local reported that the proposed site is a one-acre vacant lot, requiring a special permit, variances, and site plan approval to proceed.

Crown Castle currently operates two existing towers and supporting equipment on two leased properties along Fresh Pond Avenue, the same street on which the new tower is proposed. According to the Local, if a new monopole is built, it will replace the existing towers, which Crown Castle would dismantle.  

Crown Castle filed the suit after the Zoning Board of Approvals (ZBA) granted the setback variances on January 21, but conditioned its approval on the telecom providing covenants for the two existing cell tower sites, precluding the reconstruction of towers. Crown Castle claims the ZBA was “well aware that the applicant would be unable to obtain the restrictive covenants” it required. The suit claims the condition was an “effective denial” and not based on substantial evidence. 

Although the town board set a public hearing on the matter for March 16, Crown Castle says the failure to approve the application by February 1 constitutes an “unreasonable delay” under the federal Telecommunications Act’s “shot-clock order.” The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on February 18.

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