Cell tower dispute prompts two lawsuits

COURTESY PHOTO / A dispute over the proposed North Andover cell tower seen in this rendering has prompted two lawsuits.

NORTH ANDOVER — The company that sought to install a 130-foot cell tower in the Foster Farms neighborhood of North Andover has sued the town of North Andover and the Planning Board over the denial of the tower.

Varsity Wireless alleges the town violated the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 when the planning board voted down the application.

Varsity first applied to build a 130-foot monopole in September 2017 with the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

After multiple public hearings, and vocal abutter complaints, the zoning board granted Varsity the variances it needed to install the tower in January.

The Planning Board then denied the company a site permit, meaning it would be unable to move forward with construction of the tower.

Members of the Planning Board did consider there to be a gap in coverage in the area based on data provided by Varsity Wireless and David Maxson, an outside consultant hired by the board, but the board did not agree on the proposed height of the tower, and was not satisfied that the proposed tower would adequately serve the area.

In addition to alleging a federal law violation, the lawsuit claims Varsity Wireless' application, "with variances granted by the ZBA, met all of the requirements of the Bylaw for the issuance of the requested special permit and waivers."

The federal lawsuit is in early stages, as the town just responded in court with an "early assessment" of the case this week, which certifies that the town has conferred with counsel — North Andover is utilizing town counsel Suzanne Egan for the case — to establish a budget for litigation and to consider alternative resolution, or settlement.

As that lawsuit makes its way through federal court, a parallel suit is playing out in land court against the zoning board.

Kenneth Lindauer, who lives at 160 Foster St., filed suit against the Zoning Board of Appeals and Varsity Wireless after the board's approval of the project, seeking to have the decision annulled.

Lindauer's lawsuit alleges the decision of the board "exceeded the authority of the Board, is arbitrary and capricious, is based on legally untenable ground," and violated the town's zoning bylaws. 

Recommended for you