Following the rejection of its special-use and wetlands permits for the construction of a new tower to bridge a critical coverage gap, Verizon Wireless has filed suit against the city of Philipstown, NY in U.S. District Court in White Plains, requesting that the court grant the denied permits and authorize work to begin on the new tower, as reported by WestfairOnline.com.
In Verizon Wireless et al v. Town of Philipstown, et al, the carrier alleges that neither the conservation board nor the zoning board provided sufficient evidence to warrant the denial of the permits, in breach of the federal Telecommunications Act. The suit, which names the zoning board of appeals, the town and conservation boards, and the town’s building inspector and natural resources review officer, alleges that the town engaged in discriminatory practices, levied excessive fees, unreasonably delayed the project, and violated federal and state laws, according to a report from WestfairOnline.com.
The conflict began in May of 2017, when Verizon applied for permits for a new 180-foot pole at 50 Vineyard Road to replace a 120-foot tower nearby; its signal is occluded by the local topography, according to WestfairOnline.com. As noted in Verizon’s complaint, Philipstown’s consulting engineer confirmed that the existing tower could not solve the signal gap, even if the tower were elevated to 210 feet. Verizon contends in the suit, that the proposed project met all requirements, but that town officials “were intent on catering to a small but vocal group of politically influential objectors” and unreasonably delayed mandated public hearings and attempted to impose new fees.
Two members of that “small but vocal” group are zoning board member Paula Chair, who described cell towers as “an abomination,” to WestfairOnline.com, and board member Vincent Cestone, who is concerned about towers’ impacts on real estate values. However, Philipstown’s fire department stands behind the proposed tower, noting that it is needed to bridge gaps in emergency communications, according to Verizon’s complaint.
March 9, 2018