Petitions to compel ASR registrants to undergo environment assessments may become popular tools in the war against cell towers waged by neighborhoods. The petitions, at the least slow up the process of developing a tower, and hold the possibility that a tower build could be blocked.
An example of this tactic occurred in April of this year when Michael Pearson, who lives near the site of a proposed tower, filed an “Emergency Petition to Compel Compliance” claimed American Towers did not comply with environmental regulations.
The petition raised several issues concerning Antenna Structure Registration of the 314-foot tower registered to American Towers in Marshall, Ark. The applicant suspended its tower construction pending the outcome of this review.
The FCC denied a petition on July 16, saying American Towers met all of its regulatory obligations and may resume construction. The Commission said the tower proposal would not require the preparation of an environmental assessment.
Pearson alleged that the tower would have significant environmental effects on migratory birds and endangered species, because it would be within 4,000 feet of a wildlife management area and three miles away from a national river park. A claim the FCC found to be dubious.
“Pearson does not identify any endangered species that may be affected by the tower. Instead, he provides a lengthy list of non-endangered species in the area,” the FCC wrote. “Further, Pearson does not provide any basis for why migratory birds may be significantly affected by this particular tower.”
American Towers did submit a pre-application environmental review, conducted by Environmental Corporation of America (ECA), which said the tower would not impact any endangered species.
With respect to migratory birds, ECA acknowledged the tower would be situated in a migratory flyway and would be lit with red-steady lights. However, the tower would be under 450 feet tall and would not use guy wires, so would not require an environmental assessment, according to the FCC’s recently adopted Final Programmatic Environmental Assessment for the Antenna Structure Program.
“Based on the record before us, we therefore find that even if Pearson had met the standard to request an environmental assessment under section 1.1307(c), American Tower adequately addressed Pearson’s concerns in its pre-construction environmental review,” the FCC wrote.