A United States District Court judge has sided with a Georgia telecommunications contractor, ruling that the firm has the right to build a 150-foot cellular telephone tower on Masquesatch Road. The …
A United States District Court judge has sided with a Georgia telecommunications contractor, ruling that the firm has the right to build a 150-foot cellular telephone tower on Masquesatch Road. The judge's ruling comes nearly a year after the contractor appealed a Westport Zoning Board decision denying its application to build the controversial tower.
In a decision published earlier this month, Judge Angel Kelley vacated the zoning board's August 30, 2021 decision to deny Municipal Communications the right to build at 67 Masquesatch Road. She also granted the firm a special permit with all needed variances and site plan approvals and ordered Westport to issue a building permit no later than 30 days after a permit application is filed with the town.
The judge's ruling, which was agreed to by town attorneys, "fully resolves all of Municipal's pending claims against the town," including an action against the zoning board filed in Bristol County Superior Court last year.
Municipal's companion suits against the town came soon after the town voted 4-1 last August to reject the cell tower, citing the large number of variances that would have been required (five), its height, and other issues.
"It was not an easy decision," zoning board chairman Roger Menard said following last summer's vote to deny. He and others said the tower was too high, and that alternatives for siting cellular arrays elsewhere in town had not been adequately researched.
Menard, vice chairman Gerald Coutinho, Peter Borden and Constance Gee voted against a motion to approve brought to the table by Mr. Menard. Raymond Elias was the only member in favor of the plan, and Barbara Pontoillo was absent.
Municipal quickly countered in court, alleging in its suits that "the decision denying the application reflects an abuse of the board's discretion, and is in excess of the board's authority (and was) "arbitrary, capricious and based on legally untenable grounds."
The town's experience with Municipal led to a warrant article that passed this year's Town Meeting and requires more research and due diligence by cell phone carriers and contractors who want to build in Westport.