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11 December 2016

Delaware: T-Mobile Sues Wilmington Over Rejected Cell Antennas

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"T-Mobile found that the Claymore Senior Center was the best option and proposed building nine antennas on the building's roof, according to the suit... Residents in the area voiced concerns about the aesthetics and the potential health effects of radio frequency transmissions from the antennas."

T-Mobile sues Wilmington over rejected cell antennas
by Jessica Masulli Reyes , The News Journal, 2 December 2016

The wireless provider claimed a Wilmington senior center was the best option in order to fix a nearby coverage gap.

T-Mobile is suing the city of Wilmington after the zoning board rejected a plan to install nine antennas atop a senior center to fix coverage gaps in the Hedgeville area.

The cell phone carrier's Northeast division claimed in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on Monday that the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment violated federal law when it was swayed by community members who opposed the project, saying "not-in-my-backyard."

T-Mobile has been trying to remedy the unreliable cell coverage their customers experience in the vicinity of 504 S. Clayton St.

It considered putting antennas at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in the 1500 block of Cedar St., but T-Mobile's radio frequency engineers found the area would not fix the coverage gap. It also considered the Hillside Center in the 800 block of S. Broom St., but the property owner was not willing to lease the property, the suit said.

T-Mobile found that the Claymore Senior Center was the best option and proposed building nine antennas on the building's roof, according to the suit. T-Mobile reached a lease agreement with the property owner and submitted an application to the city in February.

Residents in the area voiced concerns about the aesthetics and the potential health effects of radio frequency transmissions from the antennas, the suit said.

"In an effort to address aesthetic concerns raised by certain members of the community opposed to the initial application, T-Mobile designed its proposed facility to completely conceal the antennas behind an architectural embellishment resembling a penthouse extension located in the center of the roof of the building," the suit said.

The lawsuit claimed T-Mobile fully complied with all city requirements and specifically showed that the maximum permissible exposure levels from the proposed antennas would be far below the Federal Communications Commission's exposure limits for electromagnetic fields.

The board voted to deny T-Mobile's application on Oct. 26, but has not provided a written denial to T-Mobile, the suit said.

"Under Delaware law and under the Communications Act, the city's denial is theoretically not final until the city issues a written denial," the lawsuit said. "However, the city has not indicated that it intends to issue a written denial any time soon. Out of an abundance of caution, and to assure the expedited review required by [law], T-Mobile filed its complaint within 30 days of the city's denial at the hearing, and thus, this action is timely filed."

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2016/12/02/t-mobile-sues-wilmington-over-rejected-cell-antennas/94797106/

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