After months of public outcry, private and public meetings and a "plethora of litigation," Northampton Township's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a settlement with American Tower Corporation on Wednesday.
As part of the settlement, ATC agrees to remove 12 cell phone towers, or nodes, from residential areas and relocate them to other areas in the township consistent with heavily traveled streets, Township Solicitor Michael Savona explained. In addition, both the township and ATC will discontinue all litigation relating to the towers.
A representative from ATC was not present at the township meeting on Aug. 22, but Savona read a letter from the corporation.
In the letter, ATC officials stated that they "worked in good faith" with the township to address the issues. ATC is also prepared to absorb the costs incurred to study the new node placement and remove already installed poles—roughly $500,000—in order to maintain a good relationship with the township and its citizens.
Additionally, the supervisors and township officials said that proper notice will be given to the community in the future, since the township is mostly to blame for not having properly informed residents initially, Supervisor Chairman Frank Rothermel said.
Notice requirements won't be added to the settlement, but Savona said that he is not worried about ATC giving proper notice.
"I am not afraid that ATC is going to roll in in the middle of the night and start planting these nodes," Savona said.
Going forward, Rothermel pledged to give the community as much notice as the supervisors are given.
"Here's our promise," Supervisor Chairman Frank Rothermel said, "When we do our ordinance, as soon as we get notice, everyone who is affected will get notice. This will never happen again."
The supervisors and other township officials will work to "put steps in place so this can't happen again," Rothermel said. He added that working on the ordinance had to be put on hold so that it wasn't interfering with the settlement discussions.
The new ordinance that would put restrictions on DAS tower installation and require other DAS installers to locate their equipment on existing infrastructure will be ready as early as the next supervisors meeting, Rothermel said.
The next board of supervisors meeting has been moved up a week to Wednesday, Sept. 19, since Yom Kippur falls on Sept. 26.
View the document with information on the new node locations here.