5G poles remain on dunes in Dewey

Four months after lawsuit settled, Verizon has yet to submit plans required to move utilities
April 5, 2022

Four months after the settlement of a class-action lawsuit in which Verizon agreed to move five 5G poles from the dunes in Dewey Beach, the telecom giant has yet to file an application with the town to move the utilities.

In a March 31 email, Verizon spokesperson Chris Serico stated that Verizon is finalizing options for new pole locations and plans to submit applications to the town shortly.  

“These five cell sites in Dewey Beach have drastically improved the customer experience on the beach thanks to Verizon's Ultra Wideband service,” Serico said.

Town Manager Bill Zolper said Verizon had not shared with him any possible new locations or when Verizon expects to file the applications.

“I stressed that as soon as possible, the process needs to start so the poles can be moved off the dunes,” Zolper said.

Once the town has approved Verizon’s applications, the telecom must remove the poles within 90 days in accordance with the settlement agreement. 

Dewey residents Alex Pires, Diane Cooley and John Snow filed the lawsuit against Verizon in June 2021. The November settlement states that Verizon will move poles on Clayton, Collins, Rodney, St. Louis and Cullen streets to proposed locations that are 15 to 285 feet away from the dunes.

Relocation depends on Verizon receiving reimbursements for relocation expenses through Delaware’s 2022 Bond and Capital Improvements Act, and on approvals from the town and Delmarva Power. 

In September, Dewey entered an agreement with the state that provides $375,000 for pole relocation. Funds must be spent within three years to reimburse Verizon’s relocation expenses and for Dewey 5G consultant CTC to review Verizon’s applications for the five poles.

Controversy over the poles began in September 2020, when Verizon began installing poles after receiving permits from Delaware Department of Transportation, which was then in charge of approving permit applications for the utilities.

By October 2020, DelDOT had granted permits to Verizon to install 13 poles and to Tilson to install five poles on state rights of way.

Town commissioners subsequently passed an ordinance to govern the installation of small cell facilities, which are mandated by state and federal regulations, and impose design standards including placement, siting and maximum height.

Town commissioners also made an agreement with the state that gives the town sole authority over permitting wireless infrastructure installation, and hired a consultant to assist with legal advice and review permit applications.

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