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Tenley tower tumult
Case returns to court Nov. 16 as neighbors continue fight
(Published Nov. 6, 2000)
By OSCAR ABEYTA
The company trying to build a 756-foot telecommunications tower near Tenley Circle lost a round in court Nov. 1 when a federal judge ruled construction cannot resume while the company and the city battle in court.
The D.C. government revoked building permits Oct. 5 after area residents mounted vocal protests to the new structure. The city justified the revocation, saying the permits were improperly issued. American Tower Systems, which is building the tower, filed a $250 million lawsuit after the city pulled its permits.
The company tried unsuccessfully to convince U.S. District Judge Paul L. Freidman that it would suffer irreparable harm if it had to await final resolution of the lawsuit before resuming construction. Although Freidman ruled against the company, he set a follow-up hearing for Nov. 16 to hear more arguments.
Lawyers for American Tower Systems maintain that the company followed correct procedures and got all the necessary approvals to build the $5.6 million tower. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Acting Director Carlynn Fuller said her review of the permit application found numerous "procedural errors" that led to the issuance of construction permits. City officials have admitted that those errors could wind up costing D.C. taxpayers millions of dollars.
Residents of the upscale neighborhood mobilized their opposition when construction began in September. They quickly circulated petitions, gathered 900 signatures and presented them to members of the mayor’s administration.
Neighbors complained that no notice was given to any of the surrounding Advisory Neighborhood Commissions about the project, even though American Tower Systems had filed its original application in March 1999.
The company was able to complete about 280 feet of the tower before construction was halted. If completed, the tower could hold as many as 169 television and telecommunications antennas, according to the building permit application. The company also wants to build a 5,800-square-foot television studio on the site.