Township, ATC File Court Documents

While work on the 60 poles has ceased, the fight is far from over.


At Wednesday night’s , Northampton Township solicitor Michael Savona gave residents an update on where the township stood in its fight against American Tower Corporation (ATC) installing 60 small cell towers on residential properties throughout Northampton.

The township has filed papers in U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia requesting a judge rule that ATC’s 60 Distributed Antenna System (DAS) units mounted on poles should be classified as cell towers.

If classified as cell towers, the United States Telecommunications Act would allow township zoning ordinances to designate where the DAS units could be placed, Savona said. In Northampton, an ordinance states cell towers can not be installed within 300 feet of a residence.

Last week, when the township pulled ATC’s work permit, the company complied and immediately stopped all work, Savona said. The township did not encounter any problems with ATC crews.

Days after the permit was revoked, ATC filed a motion in Bucks County Court in Doylestown stating that Judge Wallace Bateman find Northampton in contempt of the previous legal ruling in which the township lost.

ATC has requested the court to issue a peremptory judgment allowing its crews to resume work on the pole and fiber optic cable installation, which is more than halfway completed, according to court documents. The company contends that because they have been approved as a public utility by the state they should be able to continue to work in the public right-of-way.

“Being a public utility doesn’t exempt you from every township regulation,” Savona stated, referring to the fact that ATC has violated numerous township codes over the course of the project.

Savona said the township’s legal position is different than the stance it took during its previous 2011 legal battle with ATC.

“The positions we are taking up now were never raised during the litigation last year,” the solicitor said.

Members of the township’s legal team have met with officials in Harrisburg to discuss the legal ramifications of Northampton’s fight and how other townships facing similar problems in the state can learn from this.

Going forward, Northampton will work to improve its ordinances to make sure this cannot happening again, Savona said. Aside from ATC, there are nearly 20 other companies that install DAS systems, Chairman Frank Rothermel added.

Janet Swenson, one of the first residents to raise issue with the installation of the poles, thanked the board for listening to residents and for its current transparency with the legal filings.

“The people should give themselves a round of applause,” resident Bill O’Neill said. He also praised Savona for his work in fighting ATC.

A new group - Citizens of Northampton Township Against Cell Towers (CONTACT) - has been formed by a group of residents.

Through attorney David Truelove, CONTACT has filed a petition to intervene with the court and fight ATC alongside the township, according to a release.

Savona said he supports the residents' decision to hire an attorney and has been in contact with Truelove to bring him up to speed.

As of Thursday morning, no court dates have been set.


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James T. Cunningham May 26, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Carmen, you are correct and I appreciate the feedback. I'm pleased to have such a forum as this to address questions/issues etc. Unfortunately given the personal attacks by certain folks on here I allowed my baser instincts to get the best of me. This is something I will try to keep in check moving forward. All the best.
William Powell May 27, 2012 at 01:24 AM
A supervisor term limit resolution was voted on at the last BOS meeting telling the citizens of Northampton they were not capable of making their own decisions at election time. This is another example of the leadership wasting taxpayers money and worrying about his own agenda. And one wonders how the cell tower problem was missed by the leadership? Remember November!
Caren May 27, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Mr Cunningham, or anyone who can answer this question... Exactly what information was withheld, and how was it pertinent in deciding whether or not to appeal?
Don George May 28, 2012 at 02:03 PM
You presume that there is/was leadership. Perhaps you presume too much? lol
andrew d. kamarauskas May 28, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Dear Churchville Nature Center; I have three robin hatchling, in a nest on my balcony. It seems the Mother has abandoned them. Today is Memorial Day, I has been 11 hours, since I have noticed any feeding. I thought a mild saline solution, (spoon fed) would temporarily assauge their hunger. Was I wrong ??? I am also giving a light spray of water to keep them hydrated I have no other idea of what to do. can you guide me ?????? andkam124@gmail.com


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