Judge rules in favor of ExteNet in North Hempstead case

A judge has ruled in favor of ExteNet Systems in its lawsuit against the Town of North Hempstead. (Photo by Rob Pelaez)

A federal judge has decided in favor of wireless infrastructure provider ExteNet Systems in its case against the Town of North Hempstead.

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

ExteNet, which had been contracted by Verizon Wireless to build nodes across the North Shore, alleges 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.

The company said that 14 days after the filings, on Sept. 6, the town paused the 90-day “shot clock” by “requesting additional information, indicating that the town did not consider ExteNet’s application to be complete.”

ExteNet added that North Hempstead received the aforementioned additional information from them on Oct. 1, and with the “shot clock” reset by Federal Communications Commission rules, the town had until Dec. 30 to act on the applications.

Over the course of the town’s meetings in the ensuing months, the applications were not brought up in public session by the board, “triggering the filing action within 30 days thereafter,” the suit says. A planned public hearing on the applications for March 19, announced the same day as the lawsuit was filed, had been canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus.

“As the town has produced no reasonable explanation for this delay, ExteNet is entitled to summary judgment on its claim that the town failed to ‘act…within a reasonable period of time’…Therefore, ExteNet’s motion for summary judgment…is granted,” Korman wrote in the June 26 order.

As part of ExteNet’s proposed judgment, the company’s application to install sixteen wireless cell nodes would be granted “immediately.” Korman has not yet issued a full judgement on the matter.

Michael Hill, ExteNet’s assistant general counsel for regulatory affairs, said in an emailed statement that the company is “pleased” by the order.

“We look forward to improving wireless connectivity for North Hempstead, including its residents, businesses, and visitors,” Hill said.

North Hempstead Director of Communications Gordon Tepper said in an email that the town was “disappointed with the court’s decision, and [the town is] considering [their] options going forward.”

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

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Rose Weldon

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