New York Village Residents Oppose “Monopine” Cell Tower Permit, Citing Environmental Concerns

Citizens of the Village of Nelsonville filed an environmental complaint in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday against the village, its zoning and planning boards, its building inspector William Bujarski, and businesses including Homeland Towers, LLC, New York SMSA Limited Partnership or Verizon Wireless, and New Cingular Wireless PCD LLC or AT&T. The lawsuit reportedly challenges the legality of a Consent Order representing “a collection of defective land use decisions,” specifically the lack of an environmental report, and asked the court to vacate the order which allows the building of a “monopine,” a cell tower disguised as a tree or other foliage.

The plaintiffs claimed that the judicial endorsement of the Consent Order did not consider an environmental review which reportedly is required. They said this action violates federal and state laws, and “derives from the statutes it implements,” which includes the Communications Act (TCA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

In the action, which led to the consent order, the provider defendants reportedly tried to enforce alleged TCA violations after the village denied an application for a 110 foot monopine tower and other wireless communications equipment. The court ruling resulted in an approval of the providers’ applications, which were, according to the complaint, “previously met with heavy public opposition.” 

The plaintiffs claimed that the village did not adequately represent its citizens in the previous lawsuit, which led them to bring this legal action. They are seeking for the court to vacate the building permit issued for a 95 foot monopine tower given in June of 2020. 

The complaint said, “this case is about balancing the implementation of environmental significance review with the TCA’s mandate of promoting the swift development of wireless telecommunications infrastructure.” It argued that a “balance must be struck” between federal interests and the required environmental review. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Michael V. Caruso, P.C.