Lawsuit Filed Against East Hampton Town

T. E. McMorrow
A complaint against the Town of East Hampton filed at the county clerk’s office in Riverside is as thick as an old New York City phone book.

The first of three promised lawsuits from 12 neighbors who live near the site of a proposed AT&T monopole cell tower at the old brush dump site in Northwest Woods was brought against the Town of East Hampton last week.

The article 78 lawsuit in the Civil Branch of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Riverhead challenges last month’s decision by the zoning board of appeals to grant three variances regarding the distance from neighboring properties of the proposed 185-foot-tall antenna.

The suit charges, amongst other things, that when the zoning board granted the variances, it failed to account for the economic consequences the antenna will place on the neighbors. A series of letters from experienced, area-licensed real estate brokers are attached to the suit as an exhibit.

Lisa Levitin, of Rosehip Partners, LLC, estimated the homeowners living around the proposed tower will see their property values decline by a minimum of 20 to 25 percent.

“The negative impact this will have is irreparable,” she said.

Bryan Midlam, a broker with Compass, wrote in his letter that he specializes in Northwest Woods properties. He agreed with Levitin’s devaluation estimate of the properties. The owners of 215 Bull Path could see a loss of $1 million.

Susan Ryan, a broker with Corcoran Group Inc., wrote “the tower will be a large eyesore for all the nearby residents. The homes in the area will become very difficult to sell, even at a lower price.”

The attorney handling the lawsuit for all 12 neighbors, Andrew Campanelli, has promised two more suits, another article 78 against the East Hampton Town planning board, and a federal court lawsuit claiming the town denied his clients due-process to air their grievances, which he said is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

AT&T had preferred a different site, Iacono Farm, to enable the company to close chronic cell signal gap in the Northwest Woods area. The communications giant was planning mount antennas on a wind turbine tower there. When the planning board rejected that proposal, AT&T sued in federal court, obtaining a settlement heavily favorable to them.

In it, the company agreed to build a tower at the brush dump, which the planning board had indicated was the site the town preferred, but with a provision that if any legal action challenges the town’s right to issue permits for the monopole antenna, and that suit was not resolved by 90 days after the town’s building department issued a permit for the structure, AT&T could deem the brush dump site as having been denied, and begin work at Iacono Farm without the town having any say in the matter. That 90-day clock will expire May 19.

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