June 05, 2020
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Rockland sued for rejecting controversial cell tower along coastal highway

Lauren Abbate | BDN
Lauren Abbate | BDN
The city of Rockland is being sued by a company that sought to construct a cellphone tower on Route 1.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A communications company has filed a lawsuit against the city after rejecting a proposal for a 120-foot cellphone tower on Route 1.

Bay Communications LLC, an AT&T affiliate, filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, a month after the Rockland Planning Board rejected the proposal, which had drawn criticism from neighbors of the Route 1 property.

The company is accusing the city of preventing it from fulfilling wireless service needs. Communications companies are mandated by federal law to provide as sweeping coverage as possible.

Bay Communications chose the Route 1 location because the results of a study showed that there was a gap in coverage in that area, according to the lawsuit.

“The board’s denial of Bay’s application has the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal vire services in violation of the [Federal Communications Act] because it materially inhibits the provision of personal wireless services,” the lawsuit states.

The company is asking the court to overrule the planning board’s decision.

The planning board rejected the application because it would cause injury to the surrounding area, in terms of aesthetics and potential decreases in property values. However, a consultant hired by the city looked at the selling prices of homes located next to three other cellphone towers in the city and found none suffered from declining values.

Bay Communications III LLC filed an application with the city in September for the 120-foot monopole, which it hoped to construct on an empty lot at 82 Camden St., which is also Route 1. The lot sits between Pizza Hut and an apartment complex.

The proposal immediately drew sharp criticism from people who lived in a Pen Bay Acres, a residential neighborhood located behind the Route 1 site. Residents there said the tower would obstruct their view of Penobscot Bay and have a negative impact on their property values.

The city had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of Wednesday afternoon.


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