Verizon sues Wisconsin city over denied cell tower application

cell tower
Credit: Carl Lender/Flickr

Verizon Wireless is taking yet another city – this time Appleton, Wisconsin – to task over the denial of a cell tower construction permit.

According to the Appleton Post-Crescent, Verizon filed the suit after Appleton’s City Council rejected a special use permit application. Verizon called the rejection “groundless and in direct conflict with Wisconsin law.”

As the report pointed out, 2013 Wisconsin state statutes place limits on local municipalities’ ability to deny cell towers. Applications can be denied amid public health or safety concerns, but need to be accompanied by "substantial written evidence" in order to do so.

The City of Appleton now has 45 days to respond to the lawsuit, which has Verizon asking the court to reverse the Common Council’s decision and to have the city reimburse the carrier for legal fees.

The legal standoff between Appleton and Verizon marks just the latest in a continuing string of Verizon challenging local governments’ cell tower citing rules and regulations.

In July, Verizon was considering a challenge to rules in Lane County, Oregon, which it called "burdensome and unusual." In that case, opposition to the tower cited health concerns, unsightliness and the presence already of adequate cellular coverage, calling the planned tower simply a project by Verizon to boost capacity in the area and drive more mobile data usage.

"The facility proposed for Bodenhamer Road in Lane County, Oregon, will offload traffic from nearby cell sites and provide much needed coverage and data capacity in the surrounding area. This cell site will provide the increased bandwidth needed to allow customers to access data rich applications like video and music streaming, upload and download photos and video, and utilize remote healthcare and education apps," Verizon said in a previously issued statement.

In May, Verizon took a small California town to court over wireless facilities installation rules that constituted a de facto ban on any new cellular antennas in the area.

"While this upgrade is significant to Verizon Wireless and its customers, it is utterly insignificant from any legitimate land-use perspective," Verizon said in the complaint. "Placing small antennas and ancillary equipment on the roof of a commercial building, with the antennas concealed inside a faux chimney, would not cause any significant visual, noise or other impacts properly regulated under the Capitola zoning code."

For more:
- read this Appleton Post-Crescent article

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Verizon challenging 'burdensome and unusual' Oregon county cell siting rules
Verizon sues small California town over restrictive wireless installation ordinance