Crown Castle has filed suit against an Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals and five residents who spoke out against the company’s petition to build a new cell tower.
According to the Indianapolis Star, the board blocked the petition after residents suggested the tower would look intrusive. Crown Castle spokeswoman Zenia Zaveri told the publication that it believed the remonstrators should be named in the lawsuit because they were all on record in opposition to the tower.
"In filing our petition, Crown Castle interpreted and followed Indiana state law with input from local outside counsel that is well-established in the state. Crown Castle has not sued and has not sought relief from any remonstrator. However, since the remonstrators went on the record in opposition to our proposal – even though they did not have any interest in the land – we were required by law to name and notify them of our petition," said Crown Castle in a statement.
In hearing the suit, Judge Paul Felix said that the board and remonstrators needed to state a clearer argument for blocking the tower. According to the report, the tower was approved in July.
But the bigger implications, as pointed out in the report by former board member Jeff Heinzmann, is the possibility that fear of lawsuits could ultimately prevent citizens from voicing opinions about proposed projects like new cell towers.
Legal action on the part of cellular infrastructure companies and wireless providers is not unusual in cases where tower applications are denied. Verizon has initiated several lawsuits this year against local governments, most recently suing Appleton, Wisconsin’s City Council over an application rejection it deemed “groundless and in direct conflict with Wisconsin law.”
However, it’s rare that residents who speak out in public meetings against such proposals would be included in litigation.
- read this Indianapolis Star article
Verizon sues Wisconsin city over denied cell tower application