Village Can’t Win After Settling Lawsuit with Homeland Towers and Verizon

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UPDATE After recently settling a federal lawsuit filed by Homeland Towers and Verizon Wireless, the Village of Nelsonville (NY) is once again facing litigation, but this time from residents. The Highlands Current reported that 18 residents are suing the village, Homeland, and Verizon over the planned project, a tower above Cold Spring Cemetery.

The residents of the Hudson River-based community filed the 33-page suit claiming, “the tower violates state and federal environmental laws and undermines local authority.” The laws in question are the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, and the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act.  

The Current reported the lawsuit asks that a judge invalidate the recent agreement by the village, Homeland Towers, and Verizon, which ended an expensive and complex 19-month legal battle. According to the lawsuit, the settlement “is a fundamentally flawed, illegal, and dangerous litigation tool.”

David Eisenbach, leader of the resident claimants, said records from previous Village Board meetings “reveal the telecoms bullied and intimidated our elected officials, who felt they had no choice but to agree to the settlement.” The lawsuit notes that Nelsonville “caved” in settling with the telecoms because the latter employed a “sue-and-settle gambit.”

Residents want the village to allow more public input on the project with the “ultimate goal” being to find a “sensible location” for the tower, reported The Current. The lawsuit also charges that the settlement “bargains away” village zoning control and law-enforcement powers. 

Mayor Mike Boman said the village is working to meet a 21-day deadline to answer claims. The village received the document on October 21. 

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