Court: Milton cell tower lacks permit
MILTON - The company that owns the cell tower on American Legion property on Granite Avenue has appealed a state Land Court decision that the tower is there illegally.
Judge Judith Cutler had ruled earlier this summer that the Milton Zoning Board of Appeals overstepped its authority when it renewed
SBA filed an appeal of Cutler’s ruling with the state Appeals Court.
The Legion, which brought the original suit, doesn’t object to the tower remaining on its property but wants to renegotiate its contract to get more money from SBA, according to attorney Robert O’Leary.
Under the current contract, SBA pays the Legion $3,000 a month, O’Leary said, a figure he described as below market value.
SBA operates cell towers around the country, with dozens in Massachusetts, including sites in Braintree, Carver, Norwell, Randolph, Stoughton, and Westwood. The company typically rents space on each of its towers to numerous telecommunication companies.
SBA was the third company to own the Milton tower, which is located next to the Milton Legion’s social hall, across from Presidents Golf Course. The tower was installed in 2003 and issued a permit that automatically expired in five years.
SBA acknowledged that it missed the deadline for applying to the ZBA for an extension, but argued successfully to the permitting board that public interest in maintaining the tower trumped a procedural fault.
The company and town, which is defending the ZBA decision, will make that argument again to the state Appeals Court.
The Legion, meanwhile, has asked town officials to go to court to collect fines from SBA.
“There is a provision in the bylaw that says for each day you operate a tower without a permit there’s a $300 fine,’’ O’Leary said. “SBA has been operating [without a legal permit] since December of 2008. That’s over 2.5 years; multiply that [by] $300 a day and you run into substantial money.’’
Cell tower proposals have ended up in court in many communities across the state, with opposition usually coming from neighbors. Back in June 2010, the Milton Zoning Board of Appeals rejected a request from T-Mobile to put a 120-foot-tall tower at a Boy Scout camp at the edge of the Blue Hills.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.