UPDATE Last week, the Menifee City Council reversed its decision regarding a 70-foot AT&T tower to avoid paying hundreds of thousands in legal fees. The carrier filed a lawsuit citing “the city’s actions are preempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and are therefore void and invalid.” In a unanimous vote, the Council approved the tower for Wheatfield Park, which is expected to be disguised as a clock tower, reported Menifee 24/7.
After AT&T filed the lawsuit, the city was urged to reconsider the denial that occurred in December 2019, due to public health concerns. According to AT&T representatives, the Wheatfield Park location is the only one of four potential sites that can close the coverage gap and where the landowner agreed to lease space for telecommunications use.
According to a city staff report, the Council was advised to approve the project based on several factors. Menifee 24/7 reported that doing so will:
- Avoid significant litigation expenses (likely in excess of $200,000).
- Avoid the possibility that the facility will be ordered approved by the United States District Court with no conditions.
- Will result in a facility that is fully concealed in a clock tower.
- Will provide better coverage in the area surrounding Wheatfield Park.
- Will enhance the capacity of AT&T’s FirstNet network for first responders.
Mayor Bill Zimmerman said of the project, “I have remained consistent, and made my decisions with the taxpayer in mind. To be clear, I don’t want a cell tower at this park. But whether the city approves it or if they [AT&T] get the approval from a judge in a black robe, the end result will be a cell tower. The only difference is how much our residents will spend paying legal fees.”
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