December 8, 2017 is a day that many in Rye will long remember. It was the day that Crown Castle’s lawsuit against the City was dismissed in federal court.
Crown Castle claimed that the City’s positive declaration under SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act), which required Crown Castle to conduct an environmental review of their application to install 64 mini cell towers, violated the Telecommunications Act.
Judge Briccetti found otherwise. He granted the City’s motion to dismiss the complaint, stating there is nothing in the law that prevents a municipality from performing a thorough review.
Mayor-elect Josh Cohn was cautiously sanguine upon hearing the news. “This win is a great Rye start to what may be a long battle. But I hope Verizon, which stands behind Crown, takes this decision as a signal to stop backing Crown’s bullying tactics. If Verizon really wants to serve Rye, it must do so in a manner acceptable to the people of Rye.”
Trish Agosta, who with Cohn, fought the installation proposal from the start, hired outside counsel and a consultant to come up with alternatives, and organized the citizen’s group, Protect Residential Rye, called the decision “a very positive development”.
However, as Agosta noted, Crown Castle may yet appeal the federal dismissal and pursue state law claims in New York state court. “As information becomes available, we will keep you posted.”
— Robin Jovanovich