Judge crosses out cell tower dispute

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A federal suit is going back to Jeffersonville to decide whether a wireless carrier can put up a cell tower disguised as a Baptist church cross.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker Thursday remanded the case Sprint Spectrum v. City of Jeffersonville Board of Zoning Appeals, No. 4:05-cv-00154-SEB-WGH, issuing a final judgment and denying cross-motions for summary judgment from both parties. The nearly three-year-old suit was filed in the Southern District of Indiana New Albany Division.

Sprint wanted to build a "stealth facility" that would hide a cell phone tower and equipment inside a large cross on a Baptist church, something it deemed inoffensive to the church membership and less obtrusive for the neighborhood. The wireless carrier claimed it needed the tower because of inadequate service in Jeffersonville, but the board had denied a previous request for a special zoning exception in a different location and then denied the second request after public hearings in 2005.

Appealing that second decision, Sprint argued the city board had violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that was designed in part to limit local governments from unfairly restricting growth of wireless communications through local regulation.

Sprint contended that the board didn't issue a "written decision" as required by the federal law, and both sides filed cross-motions arguing that neither presented enough evidence to proceed. Judge Barker cited a lack of evidence and "he said, she said"-style claims from both sides throughout the process.

"Our analysis causes us to conclude that neither party has fully met its obligations here, and that, indeed, the record is far too meager to support a judicial determination for either side," Judge Barker wrote. "In the final analysis, Sprint must provide a more convincing record to support its need for the exception it has requested. Including a more convincing case that it lacks reasonable alternatives to correct the transmission and coverage problems. As for the Board, it too must lay out its findings and conclusions in a way that explains the insufficiencies it has found in the application before it."

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.