Lawsuit allows for telecommunications tower

By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

A settlement between the city of Grove City and Verizon Wireless and Capital Telecom Holdings will result in a new cell tower in the area.

In early 2018, Verizon Wireless and Capital Telecom Holdings applied for use approval for a wireless telecommunications tower to be located near the corner of Stringtown and McDowell roads, on the American Legion property. Council denied the application. In June of 2018, Capital Telecom Holdings filed a complaint against the city. The case has been in litigation for more than a year.

At the Aug. 17 meeting, with a 3-2 vote, council approved a settlement agreement with the telecommunications company.

“I believe it’s an appropriate settlement,” said Law Director Stephen Smith.

According to Smith, the settlement allows the city to get more concessions from the company than what was originally presented. He said through the litigation, the applicant has agreed to reduce the height of the tower (from 155 feet to 145 feet), paint the tower so it blends in with the area and screen the boxes and transformers that come with the tower. Smith said instead of the “bird’s nest” top of the tower design, the company has agreed to panels, with a sleek look.

“We tried to get every concession we could,” said Smith.

Council members Ted Berry and Roby Schottke voted against approval of the settlement agreement.

Schottke said the property at Stringtown and McDowell Road is not zoned for a cell tower and there are other places more appropriate for a telecommunications tower. He said the city has worked diligently to get rid of poles along Stringtown Road, now the federal government is forcing the city to put one in.

“I am very much against this,” said Schottke. “It’s awful that we have no local control.”

Companies can use the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Telecommunications Act of 1996 to work in its favor. According to the FCC, the goal of the law is to let any communication business compete in any market against any other.

Verizon Wireless and Capital Telecom Holdings wanted the American Legion site because it provided better coverage.

“It is very difficult to win these cases,” said Smith.

The law director said the system can be unbalanced in favor of telecommunication companies.

In response, Schottke said, “We are settling because the court was going to rule against us.”

In other news, the city will contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation for a bridge inspection program.

According to City Administrator Chuck Boso, 32 bridges in the city will be inspected by ODOT at no cost to the city. The city will receive a report on the bridges. If repairs are needed, the city would be responsible for funding.

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