Plans for a New Fire Department Tower Go Up in Smoke


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The Mattituck, NY Fire District and Elite Towers have filed a lawsuit against Southold Town after learning that previously approved plans for a new cell tower had been scuttled.  

While the Planning Board did not completely reject the idea of a new tower, they did chop the promised 120-foot structure down to 80-feet.  Zoning regulations in the town limit a tower’s height, but the applicants had anticipated that their special permit request would be approved. 

The Suffolk Times reports that the Planning Board’s conditional approval both reduced the height of the proposed tower and imposed landscaping restrictions.

The court papers noted, “The decision, however, ignores the substantial evidence showing the minimum height needed by the Applicants to provide the necessary improved cell and emergency communications services.”  

The lawsuit further contends that the Planning Board is in violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  The plaintiffs seek to overturn the Planning Board’s decision, claiming that the tower’s height and location are necessary features for the improved coverage that is needed.  

The tower proposal was first put forth in 2017, when the Fire District teamed with Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Site plans were drawn up, along with a special exception permit that would allow for an 120-ft tower with an additional antenna that would reach up to 132 feet. The extra height was intended to correct existing coverage gaps.

The lawsuit contends that, “in reaching the decision [to reduce the height], the Planning Board ignored the substantial evidence in the administrative record that the Facility was needed at the proposed height, and that a forty-foot reduction in height would significantly impair the ability of the Applicants to serve the public.” The Planning Board has yet to issue a response.

January 11, 2019

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