Court Agreement Clears Way for Verizon Tower in Clarksburg
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — An agreement for judgment filed in U.S. District Court would vacate a decision by the Planning Board to deny a special permit to Verizon Wireless.
The agreement, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Springfield, would clear the way for Verizon, operating as Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Co., to install a 140-foot monopole at the former North Adams Country Club.
"It is ordered, adjudged and declared pursuant to said Judgment that Verizon Wireless shall be deemed to have obtained all of the zoning relief necessary for the Facility at the Site in accordance with this Final Judgment and shall be allowed to proceed with the construction of the Facility, including the Tower," the judgment reads.
The judgment would essentially function as the special permit Verizon had been pursuing for more than a year.
Verizon took the Planning Board to court in June 2017 after planners rejected the telecommunication company's proposal to install the cell tower.
Abutters and numerous residents along the scenic byway registered their objections to the plan at several public hearings. The planners said their decision was based on the town's recently enacted cell-tower bylaw, including the company failing to prove that it needed to site another tower within five miles of an existing one (on Florida Mountain) and that it would have an adverse effect "on historic resources, scenic view, residential property values and natural and man-made resources."
Verizon said the location was necessary to relieve the increased load on the Florida Mountain antennae on that side of its coverage area. Other suggested locations, including the town's covered landfill or the Berkshire Medical Center campus in North Adams, would not solve the company's coverage problems in the River Road area, Verizon engineers said.
The suit, filed on June 19, 2017, says the decision to deny the application was broadly stated as failing to comply with "all requirements set for in this bylaw" but does not specify what has not been met or what evidence was used to determine the asserted noncompliance.
The company was asking the court to declare that its rights had been violated and to annul the decision by the Planning Board, and to order the board to grant the special permit and zoning approvals.
The judgment, referred to Magistrate Judge Katherine A. Robertson, has a list of conditions that Verizon has agreed to including: painting the pole a gray color approved by the planners; putting green vinyl slats in the chain-link fencing surrounding the site as screening; set a $10,000 decommissioning bond; allow the town to set its own communications relays on the tower; and conform to all other conditions as set out in the original plans.
Verizon would still have to abide by the town's bylaws for obtaining a building permit and paying taxes.
The site is to be No. 2, one of three potential locations discussed. That puts the tower closer to the middle of the 83-acre site and away from one abuttor who had been concerned it would more closely impinge upon his property.
In the statement of agreement, the board acknowledged that its decision could run afoul of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 and agreed with Verizon "that it is in their respective best interests to settle this litigation."
Neither party acknowledges liability and both waived all rights to appeal. Verizon, in its filing, had asked for the Planning Board and town to cover its legal costs but the judgment has each party bearing "its own costs, fees and expenses."
Verizon would have two years within which to take out a building permit.
Tags: cell tower, lawsuit, US Court, Verizon,
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