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Long IslandNassau

Texas company loses suit to install cellphone antennas in Oyster Bay

An arrow points to an antenna that would

An arrow points to an antenna that would be attached to a utility pole to help create a wireless network in an area of Oyster Bay Town with low cellphone service. Credit: Crown Castle

A company that installs cellphone antennas plans to appeal a federal court ruling that last month dismissed its lawsuit against Oyster Bay over barriers to their installation.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein in Central Islip ruled in May that the court had no jurisdiction in the case brought by Texas-based Crown Castle NG East LLC because the company hadn’t applied for the proper permits from the town, and thus a federal law under which they sought relief did not apply.

“The undisputed evidence demonstrates that plaintiff never applied for the requisite building permits,” Feuerstein wrote in her May 12 decision.

Crown Castle sued Oyster Bay in 2017 after town officials revoked highway access permits for the installation of cellphone antennas on public rights of way, also known as utility strips. The federal Telecommunications Act prohibits municipalities from restricting the installation of cellphone equipment for health reasons. The antennas form a network called a distributed antenna system, or DAS, that connects cellphone signals to a central hub.

The town’s lawyers said in legal filings that Crown Castle hadn’t applied for required building and special-use permits from the town before installing them in 2017. Crown Castle’s lawyers countered that the town hadn’t required those permits in the past when it gave the company permission to install more than 100 antennas through highway access permits since 2009.

Feuerstein wrote that even if the town hadn’t required the permits in the past, “such guidance does not bind the town” in how it enforces its code in the future.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in a statement Monday that Crown Castle should “comply with the law and side with the people” rather than “waste taxpayer money” through further legal action.

“The courts have fully acknowledged the town’s right to protect the welfare and safety of residents, and we expect the same result in the appeal process,” Saladino said.

Ana Rua, government affairs manager for Crown Castle, said in a statement Monday that the company “remains committed to providing much-needed connectivity to Oyster Bay.”

“We are disappointed in the district court decisions, and we have filed a notice of appeal,” Rua said.

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