Jury rules against Manorhaven in cell tower dispute

Residents Joe Giunta and Barbara Mallon, both with

Residents Joe Giunta and Barbara Mallon, both with Stop the Cell Tower, watch as work is resumed on the cell phone tower on Pequot Ave in Manorhaven even though many of the residents do not want it next to their houses. (March 27, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile)

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The Village of Manorhaven owes $442,000 in damages to a company that builds cellphone towers, a federal jury has decided.

AG Towers of East Islip sued the village, claiming it has illegally delayed granting a permit that allows the company to operate the 125-foot-high tower.

The verdict late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip involves the money that the company lost because it couldn't rent space on the tower to cellphone companies, according to AG Towers' attorney, William Wexler of North Babylon.

"The village has put up endless hurdles to stall the operation of the tower," Wexler said.

The verdict is the latest round in the battle between the village and the company, which says it has contracts with T-Mobile, Verizon, and Metro PCSThe village allowed the tower to be built in 2008 on Pequot Avenue, but critics decried its proximity to homes and claimed it was unsightly. Later administrations opposed the tower, saying it wasn't built according to plan.

Attorney Charles Casolaro, representing the village, said an appeal of the verdict is planned.

A hearing is scheduled in federal court next month on whether the village can be compelled to grant the company a certificate of completion.

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