UPDATE With an ongoing disparity of opinions, Verizon, activists, and legal rulings square off against each other in the California vacation community. As BizJournals.com reports, the latest salvo has been fired by a community group seeking a verdict that would rank the concerns of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 above the edicts of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Predating both these rulings, the TRPA (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) was formed in 1969. At the time, the congressionally created group of California and Nevada residents was charged with the goal of protecting the environment around Lake Tahoe from the encroachment of urban development. The lawsuit filed by the activists specifically names the TRPA and Verizon Communications Inc. and has challenged their right to erect an 122-foot cell tower with supporting small cell units.
If construction is allowed to continue, the new tower would join 140 towers already sanctioned by the FCC and currently in place in the Lake Tahoe area. Julian Gresser, an attorney hired by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency et. al., has stated that the TRPA and EPA provisions hold equal footing with the FCC ruling and should allow environmental factors to be taken into consideration when evaluating a new cell tower’s placement.
“We’re not technophobes,” stated Gresser. “We want balance with the natural beauty and environment around Lake Tahoe.”
Verizon has officially declined to comment on pending litigation.
In it’s official response, a spokesperson from the TRPA delineated the responsibilities, and limitations, of the TRPA’s involvement. “TRPA understands the pressing concerns in the community about the health and environmental impacts of cell towers. The agency’s role in cell tower permitting is to ensure the project is in compliance with Lake Tahoe’s environmental thresholds and zoning requirements,” the announcement read. “Federal regulators set the emission standards from cell towers and review the environmental impacts of those standards.”