Law Firm Wins One For Client and Church

A Wisconsin state court ruled in favor of PI Tower and St. Stephen the Martyr Lutheran Church in its dispute with The Village of Greendale, Wisconsin.  The court reversed the village’s determination to deny PI Tower’s application to build a monopole and construct associated antennas and ground equipment on the church.

The Greendale Board of Trustees originally denied PI Tower’s application on February 7, 2017. Representing PI Tower and St. Stephen as petitioners, Husch Blackwell filed an action pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 66.0404(2)(f), asserting the board proceeded on an incorrect theory of law and acted in an arbitrary, oppressive, or unreasonable manner, among other things. 

The board’s February 2017 resolution provided multiple reasons for denying the application, saying the project did not satisfy the village code pertaining to setback provisions; the tower would present an adverse visual impact; the project violated the historic character of the area and failed to demonstrate a lawful basis, among other reasons.  

Ultimately, the court determined the reasons provided in the board’s resolution denying PI Tower’s application “do not survive certiorari review, either because they are not grounded in substantial evidence or they rest on an incorrect theory of law.” Further, the court found the board’s actions violated fundamental notions of fair play. Although the decision was subject to potential appeal by both the Village of Greendale and interested civic groups, the Village indicated that it will not pursue an appeal of the decision.

“With this decision, we feel the court strikes an appropriate balance between local regulation and the application of state law,” said Rodney Carter, the head of Husch Blackwell’s Telecommunications practice group. “In order to continue investing in the vital cell tower infrastructure we all depend on, operators need predictability around siting issues, and this decision provides that.”

May 15, 2018

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