East Hampton Town Spanked In Federal Court

T. E. McMorrow
Iacono Farm was the original site AT&T wanted for new cell antennas.

The East Hampton Town Board members unanimously approved a resolution last week that is a major step toward marrying the town’s current overhaul of its emergency communications system with AT&T’s installation of a 160-foot cell phone tower on the old brush dump in Northwest Woods, where construction recently began on a new substation for the East Hampton Fire Department.

The marriage with AT&T, according to federal court documents, is the result of a settlement between the town and the telecom giant, which had sued in federal court in early 2018 to be allowed to install cell antennas near the top of the wind turbine at Iacono Farm on Long Lane.

The terms of the agreement between the town and AT&T appear to entirely favor the latter. The agreement, filed October 24, is on file in the eastern district of New York’s federal courthouse in Central Islip.

The agreement reads, in part, “The Town, and its boards, agencies, departments, and instrumentalities shall accord AT&T all reasonable cooperation and assistance, including access to the brush dump, necessary to facilitate AT&T’s submission of the materials . . . and to permit AT&T to construct the brush dump facility.”

If the town should obstruct the project in any way, through any of its agencies, such as by making a positive declaration under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act, the agreement states AT&T will then have the right to go back to Iacono Farm and install the antennas they originally wanted, without any interference.

The original Iacono Farm proposal ran into stiff opposition during site-plan review before the East Hampton Town Planning Board, which required a SEQRA review to be done by AT&T. The planning board eventually rejected the AT&T application.

AT&T maintained then, and now, that the town, under federal law, had no right to stop them from installing communication antennas at the site. The Town of East Hampton, and Chief Judge Dora Irizarry of the eastern district, all agree that AT&T had it right. The agreement between the two sides states that if AT&T finds that there is any governmental obstruction of any kind to the brush dump antenna, the court will find that the town “shall be deemed to have granted all variances, permits, and approvals necessary for construction of the Iacono Farm facility, and AT&T shall be authorized to construct the Iacono Farm facility.”

While the two sides negotiated this deal, the one person left in the dark was Anthony Iacono. Despite the fact that his farm’s name is the subject of the settlement, he said neither side ever contacted him about it. The town’s lead attorney, John Jilnicki, was not available for comment earlier this week.

[email protected]

More from Our Sister Sites