MOBILE – Cellular South filed suit against the city of Mobile in U.S. District Court Monday, stating that a Board of Zoning Adjustment decision to deny variances for the construction of a cell tower in the Ladd Peebles Stadium parking lot violated portions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
On July 6, the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment denied a number of variances, including one for height, that would have allowed the wireless phone provider’s real estate division to construct a 152-foot cell tower on the stadium property’s southeast corner.
In denying the variance, zoning board member John Burroughs said the applicant was asking for several times the 45-foot allowable height.
The suit argues the zoning board’s 6-0 vote to deny the project came after approval from the Mobile Planning Commission and a positive recommendation from staff at the Urban Development Department.
“The Staff Report expressly states that Cellular South submitted the evidence required to satisfy (the ordinance) requirements for the requested height, setback, landscaping, and parking surface variances,” the suit reads.
The staff report, which was attached as evidence to the filed complaint, stated that since the monopole (single pole tower) would be in the stadium’s parking lot, “the variance would not be contrary to public interest.”
In the complaint, filed by Cellular South real estate attorney Lisa Cooper, the company argues the variance denial wasn’t supported by sufficient evidence and a written record of the denial was never supplied by the city.
In the complaint, Cellular South acknowledges a number of residents complained about the proposed tower, but argued the complaints were “insufficient” because they amounted to “not in my backyard” arguments.
The company also complained the denial had the effect of “prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services.”
The lawsuit argues that Cellular South showed a significant gap in coverage in the area and a tower at that location would help. The complaint also states Cellular South made “good faith efforts” to co-locate on an existing tower, but could not.
The complaint is asking for the court to overturn the Board of Zoning Adjustment decision.