Cell tower res­ur­rected, ap­proved

The Covington News - - NEWS / CLASSIFIEDS - ROB DEWIG rdewig@cov­news.com

A law­suit over the cell tower de­nied by the Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil last month isn’t some­thing the city can likely win, Mayor Ron­nie John­ston said. That’s why he changed his vote at Mon­day’s coun­cil meet­ing to break a tie and ap­prove a shorter ver­sion of the tower than orig­i­nally re­quested.

The tower, planned for 6163 Mon­ti­cello Road, was orig­i­nally planned to be 199 feet tall. Its own­ers, Tow­erCom V LLC, of­fered a com­pro­mise height of 169 feet last month, which the com­pany’s at­tor­ney said would im­pact the AT&T and T-Mo­bile ser­vice ad­versely, but not overly so. But the coun­cil, with John­ston sid­ing with mem­bers Michael What­ley, Chris Smith and Keith Dal­ton, voted to turn it down out­right. John­ston only votes to break 3-3 ties.

The prob­lem, John­ston said, is Tow­erCom filed a law­suit ear­lier Mon­day. The city has al­ready paid $6,000 in le­gal fees dur­ing the tower dis­cus­sion, and city at­tor­neys dur­ing an ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion Mon­day ba­si­cally told the coun­cil it couldn’t win a law­suit, John­ston said. Bills would have risen to at least $20,000, and prob­a­bly in a los­ing ef­fort as cities al­most never beat cell tower com­pa­nies in court.

“I’ve been ad­vised this is a bat­tle we can­not win,” John­ston said, af­ter sid­ing with coun­cil mem­bers Janet Good­man, Hawnethia Wil­liams and Ocie Franklin to break another tie and this time ap­prove the tower.

“We won some­thing” with the tower’s shorter height, he said, “and we’re mov­ing for­ward.”

What­ley, for his part, ex­plained that his vote against the tower both times was part of a pledge he made to “stand be­hind our con­stituents on this thing.” Neigh­bor­ing res­i­dents didn’t want it, so he wouldn’t vote for it. But he ad­mit­ted that his de­ci­sion flies in the face of another com­mit­ment he made – “to be pru­dent with the city’s money.”

John­ston said he hopes Mon­day’s re-vote will con­vince Tow­erCom to waive its law­suit against the city.

Tow­erCom’s at­tor­neys have re­fused to com­ment on the case.

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