Sussex files suit to remove cell tower

County wants temporary structure torn down
After several years of legal action, AT&T still has plans to construct a 100-foot cell tower in Bethany Beach. BY RON MACARTHUR
October 16, 2013

In an ongoing legal battle over a cell tower in Bethany Beach, Sussex County has fired the latest shot.

On Sept. 23, the county filed a lawsuit in Court of Chancery against AT&T Wireless asking the company to remove a 60-foot wooden cell tower it has placed on leased land along Route 1 in Bethany Beach. During a series of legal maneuvers dating back almost three years, AT&T placed a temporary tower at the spot where it sought to construct a 100-foot metal tower.

The county is asking the court to force AT&T to take down the tower within 30 days or face a fine of $100 per day. The special-use exception application for the tower was approved Nov. 2, 2009, and after opponents filed an appeal, the board of adjustment then denied the application.

The case eventually ended up in Delaware Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of AT&T, allowing the company to resubmit the application a third time. To date that has not occurred, according to the lawsuit.

The following is the timeline of the case:

Nov. 2, 2009: Sussex County Board of Adjustment approves AT&T's application for a 100-foot cell tower.

Oct. 28, 2010: Ruling on an appeal filed by opponents to the tower, Superior Court reverses the board's decision because the board had improperly identified the property where the tower would be located. A temporary 60-foot tower is constructed during the appeal process.

Jan. 31, 2011: County officials notifyAT&T that it's temporary tower in in violation of zoning code.

Feb. 9, 2011: AT&T files a second application to construct a 100-foot tower.

May 26, 2011: The board denies the second application; AT&T files an appeal.

June 18, 2012: Delaware Superior Court upholds the board's decision to deny the second application. AT&T files an appeal of the decision to Delaware Supreme Court.

May 9, 2013: The Supreme Court reverses the board's decision against the application. The court rules AT&T has the right to reapply to the board for a special-use exception. To date, AT&T has not refiled.

July 10, 2013: Sussex County submits a notice of violation letter to AT&T requesting the temporary 60-foot wooden tower be removed immediately. The tower remains.



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