A federal judge recently sided with Wilmington’s (DE) zoning board over the denial of a T-Mobile site, reported the Associated Press. The judge ruled that evidence supported the board’s decision that “the project would not be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of Wilmington’s zoning regulations.” He also noted that T-Mobile failed to research alternative tower sites satisfactorily.
According to the Associated Press, the judge refused to rule for the city regarding whether the board’s decision effectively prohibits T-Mobile from providing wireless service in the area. The city and T-Mobile disagree regarding a coverage gap and locations for a tower. The judge said two disputes needed to be resolved: does a significant gap in coverage exist and is T-Mobile’s proposed solution the “least intrusive?”
In a 2018 ruling, the Federal Communications Commission said that “effective prohibition of service occurs if a zoning board’s action ‘materially inhibits’ a wireless carrier from providing service — including materially inhibiting the improvement of service.” However, since T-Mobile filed its suit against the city of Wilmington before the FCC’s ruling, the judge concluded that it doesn’t apply.
The lawsuit comes after T-Mobile proposed the antenna in 2016, for placement at the Claymore senior center. The carrier argued that it “complied with city code” and did investigate alternative locations before choosing the senior center site.