The Little Village of Nelsonville Settles Lawsuit With Giant Telecoms

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UPDATE Despite protests, the Nelsonville Village Board (NY) unanimously approved the recent settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by Homeland Towers and Verizon Wireless in June 2018, reported The Highlands Current. AT&T, which also wants to use the tower, sued the municipality as well.

The telecoms sued after the village rejected a plan to build a 95-foot monopine overlooking a cemetery. They claimed the Zoning Board of Appeals had violated federal law by denying a permit.

 According to John Diaconis, a village lawyer, negotiations led to the agreement, which forbids any future increase in the tower height and bans development elsewhere on the 9.6-acre site. The Current reported that stipulations are also in place to ensure the following: 

  • Any structure’s lighting will project downward
  • Noise pollution will be minimized
  • The village can help design the layout of the tower driveway
  • The vegetative screening will help shield the tower
  • The tower will comply with zoning laws
  • Tower sponsors will create a $30,000 fund to help neighbors with landscaping, and anyone accepting funds must agree not to sue

Dave Logan, the proposed site’s landowner, said he’s selling the property to Homeland to build the tower. He claims that opponents want to “save the cemetery” from the tower. “I don’t know what the hell the tower is going to do,” he remarked. “It’s not going to walk down there at night and tear the place apart.”

Logan also advocated for the project due to emergency communications. “You need the tower. You need the communication. You need it quickly. You need it accurately,” he said. The agreement allows local emergency services to use the tower at no charge.

Tom Corless, a former Nelsonville mayor who is a Putnam County Sheriff’s Department senior investigator, agreed the tower is needed. Corless said calls often cycle through a tower in a different county and then back across the Hudson River. “This tower is critical,” he said.

One opponent and resident Eliza Nagel stated that $30,000 had been raised for further litigation. “I urge you to refuse” the settlement and to work with the opponents “to find a way to continue this fight,” she told the board. “We need to stand up for our own decision.”

In response, Mayor Mike Bowman said village officials had “exhausted every possible alternative” to a settlement. Maria Dickey, a Nelsonville resident who is a lawyer with the state appellate court system, warned that $30,000 wouldn’t go far, reported the Current, and could “crush this little village.”

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