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Judge rules in favor of wireless company that sued North Hempstead

North Hempstead Town fought the installation of cell

North Hempstead Town fought the installation of cell equipment in Port Washington. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A federal judge has sided with the wireless company that sued North Hempstead over the installation of 16 cellular facilities, agreeing with the plaintiff that the town had failed to act “within a reasonable period of time."  

In a June 26 order, Judge Edward R. Korman ruled in favor of Illinois-based ExteNet, which contended the town violated the “shot clock” rule when it took no action for more than 90 days after the company submitted materials in addition to its initial application Oct. 1.

Attorneys representing the town had disputed ExteNet’s claim, contending the company’s application to get a right of way agreement didn’t trigger the shot clock, as federal and state laws reserved a municipality’s power to manage access to its rights of way.

Under town code, which was amended in March 2019, an applicant must secure a right of way use agreement with the town before it can apply for an antenna location permit or special permit for construction.

Judge Korman noted that a right of way use agreement was necessary before ExteNet could deploy its wireless facilities.

“Thus, as a matter of law, ExteNet’s application for an ROW Agreement activated a ninety-day ‘shot clock,’ ” the judge wrote. “As the Town has produced no reasonable explanation for this delay, ExteNet is entitled to summary judgment on its claim.”

In its complaint filed on Jan. 22, ExteNet asked the court to mandate the town issue all necessary permissions to allow the company to install the cell nodes on utility poles in Port Washington. After the court order, the company has 14 days to file a proposed request for relief, though the town may file objections.

“ExteNet is pleased by the Order of the Court issued Friday,” ExteNet spokesman Michael Hill said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to improving wireless connectivity for North Hempstead, including its residents, businesses, and visitors.”

Town spokesman Gordon Tepper wrote in an email that the town is “disappointed” with the court’s decision and is considering its options.

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