Corrales hit with federal lawsuit over denied cell tower

Posted at: 08/28/2013 6:56 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

On a plot of land dotted with thorny cacti, another thorn – in the form of a federal lawsuit – stuck itself in the village’s side over a denied cell phone tower.

Village leaders still have not seen the case, filed by AT&T in the last week, but they said they are preparing to defend themselves.

AT&T wants to build a 65-foot tower at the end of Academy Drive near several homes, but some homeowners have cried foul.

"I wouldn't want to see a big gleaming piece of steel up there either," homeowner Judith Picker said.  She said she’s not completely opposed to the cell tower, but understands why some of her neighbors are.

According to court paperwork, the village initially approved of a special use permit that would allow the tower’s construction, but then denied it months later.

AT&T claims the denial of its application "was not based on substantial evidence."

The company believes the village may have violated portions of the Federal Communications Act and Telecommunications Act.  According to the lawsuit, the company wants to fill a gap in cell coverage.

Village administrator John Avila was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, but City Clerk Juan Reyes confirmed that the village has not received a copy of the lawsuit and therefore has not planned a line of defense yet.

In the meantime, Picker said she plans to keep an open mind about the proposed tower.

"I think cell towers are a fact of life," she said.

Still, she hopes AT&T will better address her neighbors’ concerns.

There’s no timetable on when the case will proceed or how it could be settled.