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HKQ Firm News

Permission Granted To Build Cell Tower

A federal judge handed Verizon a victory Wednesday to build a cell tower on property in Monroe County. 

U.S. District Judge Robert D. Mariani ordered the Smithfield Township Board of Supervisors to grant Verizon its permit to construct a 95-foot-tall cell tower in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, agreeing with the country’s largest telecom provider that “at every turn” the board's “reasons for denying Verizon’s application [in 2017] with respect to the ‘general’ requirements are not supported by substantial evidence.”

In his summary judgment ruling, Judge Mariani wrote that he couldn't identify “any specific objective requirements” in the town’s ordinance that the board was imposing on Verizon. Moreover, the provisions prescribing the general requirements pertaining to the health, safety and general welfare of the neighborhood are not clearly expressed or defined, he added.

“The board’s decision is entirely unclear as to which ordinance provisions specifically were not met by Verizon and why,” the judge said. “The board did not, at any point in its decision, clearly set forth the conflicting evidence for a particular issue, explain what weight it assigned specific evidence, which evidence it rejected and why, or explain its rationale for the legal conclusions it reached as it was required to do under the substantial evidence standard.”

When the board issued its written decision in July 2017, it found that the property the telecom provider entered a lease agreement with to erect the cell tower was too close to Stroudsburg–Pocono Airport. It cast doubt on Verizon's assertion that the tower would shore up coverage in the area and was concerned the project would tank property values.

The town’s planning commission had previously reviewed and recommended that the permit be approved on the condition that Verizon complies with the township engineer’s request to produce a safety engineer report for the project. The company would also have to confirm there would be no interference with planes, helicopters and sky-diving activities in the area.

Judge Mariani wrote that the board reached its decision based on speculation that the proposed tower would be detrimental to locals without any actual evidence.

While the ordinance requires that the board must take the welfare of locals into consideration, the court couldn't find any language in the ordinance that “expressly placed the burden” on Verizon to prove the tower wouldn't harm them.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Verizon is represented by Richard M. Williams and Lars Henry Anderson of Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn PC.

The Smithfield Township Board of Supervisors is represented by Ronold J. Karasek of Karasek Law Offices.

The case is Northeast Pennsylvania SMSA LP v. The Smithfield Township Board of Supervisors, case number 3:17-CV-1521, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.


--Editing by Amy Rowe.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



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