Help sought in fighting AT&T cell tower

November 8, 2013

After three years of protracted hearings and court cases, AT&T has unbelievably reapplied for the 100-foot cell tower located less than 75 feet from our homes. This, even while they are currently cited, and ordered by Sussex County, to remove the illegally constructed temporary tower. Incredibly, they have thumbed their nose at the county and publicly refused to obey this order (under county regulations, they cannot even apply for this hearing while they are in violation - a “clean hands” county policy).

Our community would like to dispel recent misconceptions about our incredibly appalling journey so far. Years ago, the Sussex County Board of Adjustment unanimously voted to deny AT&T’s tower application, as they found it would both have a substantially adverse effect on our properties, and AT&T could easily collocate their antennas on nearby structures, as is required by law.

Then, on appeal, this decision was affirmed by a Superior Court judge. Six months ago, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled against the state’s citizens, siding with the large AT&T corporation, negating the entire years-long process, making an unprecedented legally deficient decision, rebuking the county BoA (for the technicality), and even admonishing the Superior Court judge (by overturning his considered ruling).

They did this with a misguided rationalization of an absurdly minor technicality in the BoA formal “write-up” (ignoring all the citizen testimony, all the hearing evidence, and the five board members' unanimous comments), and in so doing, gave unfettered support to the large corporation. Is it any wonder that people have lost faith in the judicial system?

For our group of 46 homes (and our neighboring friends in Bethany) the huge money and time expenditures, uncertainty of the tower status, and anguish of our travails continue. As had been proven repeatedly, if this tower were to fall (or catch fire, as the one recently did in nearby Pennsylvania) it could easily crush several of our homes, besides presenting a very real danger to the gas station and fast food customers and employees on the site. How much more adverse can something be?

Further, AT&T has never fully investigated using any of the many viable alternate locations (such as the nearby utility poles, neighboring mid and high rise buildings, commercial properties, and several municipal water towers), another direct violation of the county code.

We ask that those who understand how substantially adversely this tower will affect Sea Pines Village and the Bethany community, and who care about how this corporation has (and continues to) trample on the rights of ordinary citizens by manipulating the system, please consider testifying at the upcoming board of adjustment hearing Monday, Nov. 18. Or contact our county council members and let them know how you feel. We appreciate any help we get.

Gary Bogossian

spokesperson for SPV Homeowner’s Association

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