State Supreme Court Judge Overrules Zoning Board’s Tower Denial

A New York State Supreme Court Justice ordered the Town of Lockport’s Zoning Board of Appeals to approve Verizon’s use variance for a proposed, 154-foot cell tower, reported the Union-Sun & Journal. The ruling clears the way for the tower’s construction.

The ruling follows a challenge that Verizon Wireless and Horvath Communications brought against the ZBA’s rejection of the companies’ request for a use variance for the cell tower, citing proximity to occupied homes. Additionally, the ZBA noted the proposed site is surrounded by open fields. “[The] applicant has not made an adequate showing that it has navigated the possibility of locating its facilities in an open field that would … not negatively impact neighborhood houses and not require variances,” the ZBA wrote.

The judge, Justice Daniel J. Furlong, stated the rejection violated state and federal law because it wasn’t supported by substantial evidence and the ruling interferes with the area’s telecommunication services. Furlong also noted that as a public utility, Verizon and Horvath need only show the tower would satisfy a public necessity of poor cell coverage.  

Additionally, Furlong found fault in the ZBA’s assertion that Verizon and Horvath had not demonstrated “compelling reasons,” for siting the tower at the proposed location rather than an alternative site. The companies explored at least eight alternative sites but found none viable, reported the Journal.

Though opposed by many residents, local firefighters and police supported the tower, arguing better cell service is needed in the area for emergency response. David Marotta, one of the most vocal tower opponents, urged the town to appeal Furlong’s ruling, stating, “I hope the town will appeal it as to back the people of the neighborhood and to fully back the board’s decision.” Comments? Email us.

November 9, 2018 

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