North Hempstead appeals ExteNet suit

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The Town of North Hempstead is filing an appeal after losing a lawsuit to ExteNet Systems. (Photo by Rob Pelaez)

The Town of North Hempstead has filed an appeal after a judge ruled against the municipality in its lawsuit with ExteNet Systems over the installation of cell nodes.

ExteNet, which had been contracted by Verizon Wireless to build nodes across the North Shore, alleged in the suit that the town’s council failed to act on the company’s applications to install 16 cell nodes in areas including Port Washington Estates, Manhasset Bay Estates, Bayview Colony and bordering the Plandome Manor area, according to paperwork filed with the Town of North Hempstead on Aug. 23, 2019, within a “reasonable” time frame.

Federal Judge Edward Korman of the Eastern District of New York then granted the company’s motion for summary judgment in a June 26 order.

Korman’s decision calls for the town to “issue all approvals necessary for ExteNet’s installation of the 16 small wireless facilities” and “cooperate in good faith to coordinate with ExtNet during construction and installation.”

North Hempstead filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on July 29 and sought a stay of the judgment, stating that the town would “be irreparably injured unless enforcement of the judgment is stayed,” that a stay “will not injure other interested parties,” and that “a stay of the judgment’s enforcement is in the public interest.”

A statement issued by the Town of North Hempstead on Friday criticized the federal law that limits the town’s role in the dispute.

“Although the town is aggressively pursuing the appeal process against ExteNet, the town has now been ordered by a federal court to issue the Right of Way agreement and antenna location permits by today [July 31],” the town said. “The town is vigorously pursuing all potential avenues on behalf of the community and its residents to demand that ExteNet move all cell nodes away from residential homes.”

“Inexcusably, federal law gives corporations like ExteNet and Verizon unprecedented authority to overrule state and local governments in their plans to establish cell nodes – not just in our town, but in every township and local government in the country,” the statement continued. “We will be reaching out to other municipalities on Long Island and working with all levels of government to demand that this law be repealed as this issue is certainly not unique to our area.”

ExteNet responded to the request for a stay later on July 29 in a letter to Korman from attorney Brendan Goodhouse of White Plains-based Cuddy and Feder LLP.

“The town preposterously contends that ExteNet would not be injured by these even more calculated delays when it knows full well that the issuance of town permits mandated by the Judgment are also required for ExteNet to finalize independent utility company authorizations for construction to proceed at each utility pole location,” Goodhouse wrote. “ExteNet is injured by every day of delay in deploying wireless services that are being hindered as against federal policy and law.”

Goodhouse also said in his letter that “the public interest weighs heavily in favor of installing the facilities.”

ExteNet has also sued the villages of Lake Success, Flower Hill, Plandome and Plandome Manor in the past two years after each village, after widespread public backlash, did not approve its requests to build cell nodes. Legal proceedings are ongoing in all four villages, and it is unknown how this judgment will affect those suits.

The town had not previously discussed the application publicly, but Supervisor Judi Bosworth did speak disapprovingly of “the companies who want to install upgraded 5G cell phone transmission equipment in residential areas” in her State of the Town address in January.

“We expect and demand that corporations in our town conduct themselves as good corporate neighbors,” the town said in its statement on Friday. “ExteNet and Verizon’s failure to do so will require our town, and other towns, to take unprecedented steps to stand up to this egregious abuse of authority.”

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