Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Settlement with Verizon

Monday's informal Common Council meeting began with an executive session that lasted for almost half an hour 28 minutes "to discuss litigation." With the Council in executive session was attorney David Luntz. It turns out, Luntz is the attorney who represented the City, the Planning Board, and the Code Enforcement Office in the lawsuit brought by Verizon back in July. The executive session was to consider the settlement that had been reached, which can be found here

It will be remembered that Verizon sued the City because of the "unreasonable, unenforceable and arbitrary and capricious" conditions the Planning Board had imposed when granting site plan approval for siting wireless communication antennas on Providence Hall, for dragging out the review of the project, and for the "exorbitant fees" the Planning Board had exacted from Verizon in escrow payments for the consultant who advised the Planning Board in this matter. The resolution granting site plan approval can be found here. The conditions for approval are found on pages 3 and 4.

According to the terms of the settlement, Condition 2 of the approval, which required a deed restriction on the property to prohibit other wireless providers from locating equipment on the building for twenty years, will be deleted. The language of Condition 3, which required Verizon to return to the Planning Board for approval of any modification to the facility and specifically mentioned an upgrade from 4G to 5G, will be amended to acknowledge that a change from 4G to 5G does require approval by the Planning Board unless it includes antennas "that will not be screened by the stealth concealment panels and are visually discernible." Condition 5, which requires approval by an architect chosen by the Planning Board of the final plan for the stealthing structure, will be amended to require that approval be granted within thirty days of submitting the design for review. 

In the terms of the settlement, Verizon agrees to abandon its effort it get back any of the escrow payment made on the condition that the Planning Board abandons its effort to collect additional escrow payments still owed. 

On Monday, a resolution authorizing the mayor too sign the settlement agreement was introduced in the Common Council. The Council will be voting on the resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, November 16. The Planning Board has called a special meeting for Thursday, November 18, "for the purpose of considering a settlement agreement with Verizon Communications, Inc." The timing seems a bit off, since it would seem that by the time the Planning Board gets around to considering the settlement, the Council will have already voted to accept or reject it.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully this means we can soon join the rest of the world and get wireless service that works. I’ve noticed a dramatic decrease in data bandwidth over the past year, especially on the weekends when the town’s transient population spikes. Also to note, 5G speeds are comparable, and many times even better, than broadband offered through cable companies. I’ve been inundated with ads from Verizon lately advertising home internet using routers that utilize cell service, and for around $50 a month. With stronger coverage and higher bandwidth, this could finally break the monopoly of Mid-Hudson cable and Hudson can benefit from the competition. The council and planning board should realize this; especially in the light of seeing broadband as a necessary utility in the modern world, for school, work and communication. I don’t see municipal broadband in our near future. Shouldn’t our government do everything in its power to encourage anything that will make it more economically accessible. Also, a wireless tower has a much smaller infrastructure impact than stringing up a tangled web of wires around town from noisy trucks, like Mid-Hudson Cable does.