Verizon cell tower prompts talk of lawsuit

Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Colonie, according to a representative of the company, because the town has not rendered a decision about a proposed cell tower at the Loudonville Presbyterian Church.

In addition, tower opponents may bring suit against the church and Verizon if the tower is constructed, based on a 1924 deed restriction.

Federal Communications Commission regulations require a decision within 150 days of the initial application. That guideline was put into place Nov. 19, and that is the date Verizon is using as the beginning of the 150 days, said Verizon official John O'Malley, even though the company considers the initial application to the town to be closer to two years ago.

That 150 days has come and gone, O'Malley said.

Town Attorney Mike Magguilli said it is unclear when the completed proposal was brought before the planning board. He said it is not evident the town has exceeded the 150-day requirement, but if the case does go to court, the town is prepared to litigate.

The proposed cell tower has mobilized both opponents and supporters. Those against the tower are concerned about the potential health risks for the children at Loudonville Elementary School, located 1,200 feet from the site, and some cite the historic overlay district as another reason to deny site-plan approval.

Loudonville Presbyterian Church members and its pastor, Elaine Woroby cite the lack of conclusive evidence about the health risks and the good work the church can do with the nearly $900 per month Verizon will pay to use the tower.

The town planning board has a public hearing regarding the cell tower proposal scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, and O'Malley said he is hopeful for a decision at that time. If the town does not render the decision, federal court could become an option, he said.

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