Dewey Beach leaders expressed frustration with what Mayor Bill Stevens speculates is a delay tactic on the part of telecom giant Verizon in adhering to a settlement to move its 5G poles from the dunes.
“As a commissioner for two years now, this has been in existence that whole period,” Stevens said. “We have not been able to get this done. As I walk the town on a daily basis, I see where those are in the dunes, especially. One of our goals as a council was to get them moved.
“I don’t know if it’s a delay tactic on their part, but to the extent that we can be punitive, I’d like to move forward if possible because it’s a big company taking advantage of a little town,” Stevens concluded.
Stevens’ comments arose after an update provided by James Crane of CTC, Dewey Beach’s wireless consultant, at the commissioners’ monthly meeting July 15.
Crane detailed a series of interactions with Verizon that began May 3, when Verizon submitted three applications to move 5G poles on the public right of way on Rodney, Clayton and Cullen streets.
Verizon had installed the poles on those three streets, as well as on St. Louis and Collins streets, in September 2020. A lawsuit was filed in June 2021 by Dewey residents Alex Pires, Diane Cooley and John Snow seeking to remove the poles and prevent the telecom from installing any more. It was settled in November 2021, when Verizon agreed to move the poles.
Crane said CTC conducted site surveys May 11 regarding the relocation details outlined in the applications, and CTC sent requests for information May 12 to Verizon because all of the applications were incomplete and included inaccurate information.
Verizon’s applications for each of the proposed pole locations included an incomplete scope of work, incorrect latitude and longitude, incorrect setbacks, and missing compliance documents from the Federal Communications Commission, according to the requests for information available on the town website.
Crane said he discussed the requests and requirements with Verizon representatives May 27, June 13 and July 7, which he said was his last interaction with them. More than 60 days have passed since the request for information was submitted to Verizon, Crane said.
The May 12 request for information stopped a 90-day clock driving the timeline of the process, Crane said, but the town can decide if the applications are pending for too long and can withdraw them.
Commissioner Paul Bauer said it was important to hold Verizon to the deadline.
“That’s the agreement they reached to keep this out of the courts and suing each other,” Bauer said. “I don’t think we should let it slide.”
Town ordinance and design standards dictate that preferred relocations are Route 1, rooftops of beach hotels and collocations with other poles, in that order, said Town Manager Bill Zolper. Verizon must tell the town why those preferred locations are not feasible, Zolper said.
“They just want to put them in the locations they want to put them into,” Zolper said.
Assistant Town Manager Jim Dedes said the town denied an application for relocation of the Collins Avenue pole.
“That was rejected because they wanted overhead wires, and we said absolutely not,” Dedes said.
Verizon resubmitted the application and then withdrew it, Dedes said. An application for relocation of the St. Louis pole has never been submitted, Dedes said, noting that Verizon representatives stated they are working on an agreement with Delmarva Power on the issue.
To review the town’s communications with Verizon, go to townofdeweybeach.com/WirelessFacilitiesArchive.