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ATC, Northampton Approved for Stay of Proceedings

Nearly 40 Northampton residents filled Courtroom 1 in Doylestown on Tuesday, June 19.

Lawyers representing American Tower Corporation (ATC) and Northampton Township met in on Tuesday and received signed permission from a judge for a stay of proceedings so the involved parties can work to negotiate a solution.

The township, ATC and Citizens of Northampton Township Against Cell Towers (CONTACT) have until August 31 to work toward a solution to the Distributed Antenna System issue that has mobilized the community in recent months, according to township solicitor Michael Savona.

For the nearly 40 Northampton residents who filled Courtroom 1 in Doylestown, the news was seen as a positive move toward their goal of removing or relocating the already installed towers. In addition, the residents do not want anymore of the 25-foot-tall towers installed.

“The stay was a step in the right direction," resident John Phanos said. “At least [the township and ATC] are talking.”

Janet Swenson, who was among the first to raise concerns about the 60 towers that were set to be installed in Northampton, said she was happy that all the involved parties are talking. However, she said residents, the township and ATC should have been working together since the beginning.

“We’re not against cell phones and technology; we’re concerned about where poles can go up and right-of-way,” Swenson said.

David Truelove, the attorney representing CONTACT, told the residents after the hearing that they should not be surprised to see crews marking lawns and making measurements outside their homes in the coming weeks. The crews are gathering data that will help ATC decide what can be done with the poles that are already installed.

Lawyers from the township and ATC met Monday at the township building for nearly four hours to have a broad discussion of the issue, Savona told Patch after the judge approved the stay order. More meetings are set for the coming weeks.

In court, Judge Wallace Bateman said he is not sure whether he has the jurisdiction to intervene with the issue because there was no appeal filed after he ruled in ATC's favor in early 2012 due to a certificate of approval the company received from the state public utility board.

The judge said he hoped the township, its residents and ATC could come to an agreement in the coming weeks. Bateman offered to help the parties by appointing a mediator, if necessary.

If the discussions reach an impasse that can not be overcome, a court hearing on the matter will be set as soon as possible, according to civil court documents.

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steve bryer June 20, 2012 at 10:47 AM
David Truelove is NOT the Township Attorney. He is the attorney for CONTACT
Tom Sofield June 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM
You are correct Mr. Bryer. The article has been edited to reflect that Mr. Truelove is CONTACT's attorney.

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