Neighbors Claim Bell Atlantic Misled To Get Ok For Tower

May 05, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems Inc. misrepresented its plans for a communications tower near My Ladys Manor when the company sought county zoning clearances, a lawyer for residents opposed to the tower arguedin Harford Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Robert P. Brophy, a Bel Air attorney hired by residents opposed to the proposal, contended that Bell Atlantic provided incomplete information on both its federal permit for the tower and the structure's proximity to historic My Ladys Manor when it sought a special zoning exception from the county.

But Albert J. A. Young, a Bell Atlantic attorney, dismissed Brophy's arguments, saying that the residents have not produced any evidence to support why the tower should not be approved.

Citizens who live near the site for the tower are concerned that the structure willpose a health threat and lower property values. Several appealed to the Circuit Court after the county granted Bell Atlantic's request for a special exception last Aug. 20.

Brophy asked the court during Tuesday's hearing to reverse the county's approval for the 280-foot tower or send the plans for the structure back to the county for another review because of any misrepresentations.

"We believe (Bell Atlantic) did not represent themselves appropriately," said Brophy, who is representing three Monkton residents. "We believe that's a significant area of discrepancy."

Harford Circuit Judge William O. Carr did not issue a ruling on Brophy's request following the hearing. He said he wants to review the case further.

Bell Atlantic of Bedminster, N.J., plans to lease a portion of Ross and Jeanette Smith's 150-acre farm in the 4100 block of Old York Road near Monkton. The tower would be built there to serve cellular telephone communications.

Young, the lawyer representing Bell Atlantic and the Smiths, argued Tuesday that the court should dismiss the appeal because questions over the permit and the historic district were not raised during proceedings before the county zoning hearing examiner.

Appeals of zoning cases similar to the Bell Atlantic tower must be based on the record ofproceedings before the hearing examiner, Young argued.

"Not a single fact (Brophy) stated is in the record," he said. "This is a case of figuring something out after a hearing and wishing to go back afterward."

Brophy argued that Bell Atlantic representatives told Zoning Hearing Examiner William F. Casey during hearings last July that the company had federal approval for the tower.

A Harford County Sun reporter reviewed records at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington on Feb. 4.

Those records reveal that Bell Atlantic had not received the FCC permit at the time the company went before the county for the zoning approval. It received the FCC permit Feb. 11.

Brophy said Bell Atlantic also told the county that no historic or cultural landmarks are near the proposed site for the tower.

But, he said, the site is adjacent to My Ladys Manor, a sprawling agricultural area in Baltimore and Harford counties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because the county was not informed that the tower was near My Ladys Manor, plans for the tower were not sent to the Maryland Historic Trust for a review, Brophy said.

Federal historic preservation guidelines require the state to review allconstruction plans proposed for historic areas.

A Bell Atlantic spokesman said in February that county government never requested thatthe company file its plans with the trust for the required review.

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