A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by two telecommunications companies against the town of Rome and its Planning Board over the Feb. 10 denial of an application to build a cell tower just off Route 27 on a ridge known as The Mountain, which overlooks Great Pond.

Global Tower Assets LLC, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Northeast Wireless Networks LLC, of Winchester, Mass., claimed they were victims of discrimination and should have been allowed to provide personal wireless services, that the application process was unreasonably long — more than a year — and that any written decision lacked substantial evidence in the written record. The companies hoped to spend an estimated $450,000 on a 190-foot tower.

The lawsuit also claimed the Planning Board members were biased and violated conflict-of-interest laws.

The companies asked a judge to vacate the board’s denial and order the town to grant a permit for tower construction.

In a 21-page written decision issued last week, U.S. District Court Judge George Z. Singal ruled that the court could not consider a claim that the town violated the federal Telecommunications Act because the town “had not reached a final decision on Global Tower and Northeast’s Application” when the tower company filed its complaint in federal court.

“Requiring Plaintiffs to first seek recourse before the town of Rome’s Board of Appeals is in accord with the requirement that a case be ripe for federal court review and the policies of the TCA and the state of Maine,” Singal wrote.

Singal dismissed that claim without prejudice, meaning it can be brought again later.

He also found that the town Planning Board’s review and denial of the tower application did not violate the due process rights of Global Tower and Northeast.

As to remaining claims under state law, Singal dismissed them without prejudice, saying, “The crux of this case is action by a local zoning board and federal courts have been repeatedly cautioned that they ‘should not sit as a zoning board of appeals.'”

Attorney Ted Small represented the town of Rome and its Planning Board.

Attorneys Neal Pratt and Jonathan Pottle of Eaton Peabody filed the lawsuit.

None of the attorneys returned phone messages left on Thursday seeking comment on the case.

A similar lawsuit filed last September by Global Tower Assets and Northeast Wireless Network against the neighboring town of Mount Vernon is pending before Singal as well.

In a ruling in late May, Singal allowed that case to proceed on claims the town created an unreasonable delay and failed to act, which would be a violation of the Telecommunications Act.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.