Cell phone co. fights to keep ‘unsightly’ towers

Sprint PCS offers wireless cellular phones to customers. Toprovide service, the company must install wireless facilities in its coverageareas.

Representatives of Sprint submitted five applications tolocal building officials. Two were approved by the city. One was withdrawn, buttwo others were denied.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Under a city ordinance, the city council can deny permitsfor wireless antennas that are “unsightly.” That was the basis forSprint’s two permit denials.

Sprint took the dispute to court, arguing there are statelaws on this issue that preempt local city ordinances denying permits based onaesthetic considerations. Sprint also argued that the U.S. TelecommunicationsAct of 1996 allows a city to reject wireless facilities applications only ifsupported by substantial evidence other than being “unsightly.”

If you were the judge, would you allow Sprint to build itstwo wireless facilities?

The judge said yes!

“Because the city overstepped its regulatory authorityunder state law, its wireless ordinance is invalid, and no evidence supportsthe city’s permit denial,” the judge explained.

Both state law, and the federal Telecommunications Act of1996 allow a city to reject a wireless facility application based onsubstantial evidence, he continued. However, rejection of Sprint’s applicationsbased on aesthetics and “unsightly” antennas are not valid, the judgeruled. Sprint may construct its wireless facilities, he concluded.

Based on the 2006 U.S. Court of Appeals decision in SprintPCS Assets v. City of La Canada-Flintridge, 435 Fed.3d 993

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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