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Sprint Nextel mulls lawsuit over Maumee tower moratorium

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A wireless communications company has threatened to sue the city of Maumee if the company is included in a moratorium on all construction and modification of telecommunications towers and antennae.




According to Dave Hazard, Maumee's clerk and finance director, Sprint Nextel petitioned the city in September to place an antenna on a Parkway Plaza water tower, which hosts other cellular antennae.

The company is upset the matter can't be resolved because of the moratorium passed by City Council in January.

In a letter to Mr. Hazard dated Feb. 15, Sprint Nextel argued that the moratorium is robbing the company of its right to speedy review. The city was also accused of denying "substantive due process to applicants who have already applied for zoning approval" with Maumee.

Several city officials said the moratorium, which will stay in effect until July 16, was created to allow City Council time to develop regulations for telecommunications towers and antennae in residential areas.

The issue arose in November when numerous citizens expressed opposition to T-Mobile's attempt to place a cellular tower between Maumee High School's football stadium and the railroad tracks that cross Key Street.




Councilman Brent Buehrer said other towers in Maumee were placed in areas zoned for commercial or industrial use, and the city needed to study how to regulate such towers in neighborhoods.




"Before the growth in cellular towers expanded too far, we wanted to take a look at what regulations we needed to put in place," Mr. Buehrer said.




He said Sprint Nextel's complaint doesn't have anything to do with the moratorium.

Mr. Buehrer said Sprint Nex-tel's petition was delayed before the moratorium because of the number of antennae already on the Parkway Plaza water tower.

The company's complaint has been passed on to City Council's public utilities committee, which Mr. Buehrer chairs.

Sheilah McAdams, Maumee's law director, said if council granted an exception, it would have to grant one to T-Mobile as well.

The law director said City Council will examine factors such as how far towers should be from a residential property line or how to mandate that towers be built aesthetically.

"We just don't have anything of that nature in our code right now," Ms. McAdams said.

Bruce Wholf, Maumee's top building and zoning official, said the city has four cellular towers and more antennae.

Mr. Wholf and Mr. Buehrer said the city is trying to coordinate study sessions with wireless firms to develop guidelines for towers.

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