2024 Bench Trial Set for Wapiti Cell Tower Lawsuit
Written by Andrew-Rossi on May 31, 2023
While it’s difficult to make a cellphone call in the Wapiti Valley, a call for judgment will be heard loud and clear next year. A court date has been set to hear the cases for and against a new 195-foot cell tower in Wapiti.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson scheduled a bench trial in April 2024 to hear the case of Horizon Tower L.L.C. against the Park County Commissioners. The California-based company is suing after its request for a special use permit was denied earlier this year.
Horizon Tower seeks to build a cell tower on a 30-acre plot of private land along Green Creek Road, not far from U.S. Highway 14 and within shouting distance of the iconic Smith Mansion. Once built, the tower would provide wireless cellular service for Verizon Wireless and three other carriers.
The nearly 200-foot structure tower over the Wapiti Valley ignited concern and controversy. Residents and organizations like the Wapiti Valley Preservation Group oppose its construction and made a point to voice their opposition at every available opportunity.
The Park County Commissioners denied Horizon Tower, L.L.C.’s requested special use permit in February 2023, citing several residents that were concerned about the tower’s prospective impact on property values, people’s health, and the surrounding views and landscape. The lawsuit was filed shortly after.
Horizon argues the commissioners ignored the company’s evidence in favor of the tower’s construction and the permit denial violates federal law.
A cell tower would extend wireless coverage and remove a “dead zone” issue in and around Wapiti. Horizon says denying the permit for construction violates the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The Powell Tribune reports a resolution could be reached through summary judgment or a settlement before the April 2024 bench trial. However, attorneys representing the county and Horizon “do not believe there is a basis for formal settlement discussions at this time.”