By Rachel Kellogg / Neighbor Newspapers
T-Mobile South has filed a lawsuit against the city of Roswell, based on the council’s decision last month to deny the company’s application to place a cell tower on vacant residentially-zoned land on Lake Charles Drive.
The lawsuit says the decision violates the Telecommunications Act of 1996 on three counts, claiming the decision was not supported by substantial evidence, the city is prohibiting wireless service and the city is unreasonably discriminating among providers of functionally equivalent services.
“The city is preparing the answer and will defend its position as necessary,” said Roswell City Attorney David Davidson.
Davidson said the city’s answer, or response, will be filed before June 7, followed by a four-month pre-trial process “unless the judge decides otherwise.”
The company planned to construct a 108-foot stealth monopine tower, which would have resembled a tall pine tree.
When presenting the application to council, the telecommunications company said T-Mobile had a gap in signal strength in the Lake Charles area and the tower was necessary to provide reliable service to area customers in their homes and vehicles.
The council also denied a previous application by the company to place a tower on city-owned property at Fire Station No. 3. According to the lawsuit, the location used to be on the city’s siting plan but was removed after the city held a public meeting seeking neighborhood input. The lawsuit referred to the earlier decision by saying the city “bowed to political pressure, ignored its own ordinance and Siting Plan and refused to enter into a lease for the site at Fire Station No. 3.”
The lawsuit mentions citizens who came to the council meeting to speak out against the tower and said they voiced “generalized aesthetic concerns, speculating about the possible diminution of property values that would be caused by the proposed tower, speculating about the signal coverage afforded by the tower, and speculating about T-Mobile’s ‘true’ motive for constructing the tower.”
The lawsuit also includes a statement from Councilman Kent Igleheart, who is quoted as saying it is not the council’s “mandate to level the field for inferior technology.” The lawsuit calls this an “incorrect and unsupported” statement.
The document says the city has been “stubbornly litigious,” and goes on to state that council members seemed to intend to prohibit telecommunications towers from residential areas, despite the lawsuit’s claim that “the entire search area is residentially-zoned.”