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Towns Have to Quickly Tell Why They Reject Cell Towers

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Jan 15, 2015, 8:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Supreme Court sided with T-Mobile in a court case regarding the cell tower approval process. T-Mobile claimed Roswell, Ga., sent it a short letter denying a new tower and then referred T-Mobile to the town's minutes to figure out for itself the rationale behind the denial. The town's response fell short of following 2010 federal regulations regarding such denials. T-Mobile argued that it should have been provided with the reasons for the denial in clearer form and the Supreme Court agreed. Moving forward, towns that reject new cell towers will have to provide the underlying reasons "at essentially the same time" in order to give wireless network operators the opportunity to appeal or take other legal action within the 30-day timeline. Towns are already required to act quickly on tower requests and have to provide "substantial evidence" when denying new towers. "Transparent and fair decision-making by local governments will allow wireless service providers to improve the nation’s wireless networks to meet consumers demand," said T-Mobile's general counsel in response to the ruling. Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested towns might be best served to provide a brief statement detailing the reasons behind denials.

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