The Park County Board of Commissioners has answered a cellphone tower company's lawsuit challenging the board's denial of a new tower near Cody, saying the county has a right to honor the concerns of residents and deny the company's application.
Commissioners in February unanimously denied Horizon Tower LLC's special-use permit to build a cellphone tower near Cody after several residents expressed worries about the tower's potential impacts on property values, scenery and people's health.
Horizon responded by suing the county March 9, asking the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to order the county to grant its special-use permit to build the tower.
Park County responded to the lawsuit last week, saying it has the right to deny the tower companys permit.
"The board can approve or deny the application," said the county's response.
Horizon's lawsuit alleges the county violated the Federal Communications Act by denying the company's permit application to build the 195-foot cellphone tower. The company said the tower is necessary to remedy a service dead zone.
Verizon Wireless also had asked Horizon for the tower, saying it would remedy a "significant gap" in service in that area, the legal complaint says.
Park County denies that the permit denial violates the federal act, calling Horizon's assertions a "legal conclusion" rather than a fact supporting the companys claims.
The county also said that, contrary to Horizon's claims, the company did not submit all materials required by the county code when it applied for the build application Oct. 17.
Horizon's lawsuit claims that there were no alternative locations or structures it could use for its communications facility, and it must build the tower on the proposed site to remedy the service gap.
Park County denies this allegation as well.
The Townspeople Spoke
Horizon notes in its legal complaint that "some local residents" opposed its plan via email and by speaking out at a board hearing.
The tower company claimed that opponents' concerns were "vague and generalized concerns regarding the property values of surrounding lands, the obstruction of certain views and aesthetic concerns, and fears of alleged potential health effects of RF (radio-frequency) emissions from the Tower."
The county, however, said the concerns are not vague and generalized. It also denies that Horizon adequately rebutted these concerns while applying for its permit.