A third North Hempstead village has been sued by ExteNet, after Plandome denied the wireless company’s application to install eight cellular nodes.
ExteNet’s lawsuit against Plandome, a village with 1,300 residents, is the most recent example of a conflict between the Illinois-based company and local villages over the extent of control municipal governments have on regulating cellular upgrades.
The suit, which was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, came a month after officials rejected eight of the 10 cell nodes ExteNet requested to put on utility poles and street lamps in the village. ExteNet wants a court ruling to force the village to give the company the permits necessary to install the cell nodes.
The equipment, which includes a backpack-size cabinet and small antenna, has been the subject of three lawsuits and heated public hearings in multiple villages in North Hempstead. The company was contracted by Verizon to install the equipment, which ExteNet representatives said would improve wireless coverage and capacity.
In the suit against Plandome, ExteNet said village officials applied local regulations that “unreasonably discriminate against wireless telecommunications facilities.”
The company contended the village falsely accused ExteNet of failing to explore alternatives for the equipment’s locations and designs when the village offered no “objective or defined” aesthetic standards.
Plandome Village Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Peebles said officials have not been served a copy of the suit and declined to comment.
Plandome in 2017 passed a yearlong moratorium, which barred any wireless facility application. A year later, the village adopted new laws that require companies to demonstrate that the proposed equipment would be sited in a manner that minimizes its “visual intrusion.”
ExteNet called Plandome’s moratorium illegal and its use of “subjective and undefined” aesthetic standards part of a pretext used for the denial of its application.
“The true reason for the Village Board’s denial is political pressure from residents opposed to the installation of any small cells within the Village,” ExteNet’s attorney, Brendan Goodhouse, wrote in the suit.
ExteNet has applied to deploy a total of 110 nodes in six villages and the Town of North Hempstead. Company representatives reiterated that the equipment will improve wireless coverage and capacity, but residents have often packed public hearings to urge village officials to deny the company’s applications, citing their concern over the equipment’s effects on quality of life.
Edward Ross, a Garden City-based attorney representing Lake Success and Flower Hill, said his firm, Rosenberg Calica & Birney, will represent Plandome, too, and “intends to vigorously defend against ExteNet’s claims.”
Plandome is scheduled to host a public hearing Jan. 21 on the remaining two cell node applications, of which decisions are pending.