Oakland and Sidney won’t have their day in court Jan. 7.

The two towns, which were involved in a dispute about a communications tower serving their public safety services, have resolved their case out of court.

Voting unanimously Tuesday night, the Oakland Town Council accepted an offer from Sidney to pay $1,710, half of the amount Oakland was suing Sidney for in small-claims court.

Oakland Town Council Chairman Michael Perkins said the Sidney Board of Selectman approved the same agreement Monday night.

The agreement means Oakland will drop its claim for $3,420 against Sidney.

The two towns jointly leased the communications tower at an annual cost of $4,800 in 2011, but Sidney pulled out of the deal when town officials said public safety workers were not getting adequate communications from the tower.

Oakland Town Manager Gary Bowman said the relationship between the two towns was more important than the cost of the tower, noting that a mutual-aid agreement between the towns enables them to share the cost of firefighting.

“Although we believe that signed contracts should be honored, the relationship between our two communities is too important to jeopardize,” the town said in a statement. “The possible damage resulting from a trial may create an atmosphere between our two towns that could be a challenge to repair.”

Perkins said the most important issue was the safety of firefighters and residents in the two towns.

“It’s a good deal for us. It’s a good deal for them,” he said.

A court-ordered pre-trial mediation session early this month failed to produce a settlement, and the judge continued the case.

The settlement comes after Sidney previously offered Oakland $1,500 to settle the dispute. Oakland officials agreed to the $1,710 offer after less than 30 minutes in executive session Tuesday.

Sidney officials said earlier this month that the tower in Oakland left “a number of large dead spots” in which emergency personnel could not communicate with dispatch or each other.

“We were paying for a service that didn’t work,” Sidney Selectman Kelly Couture said. “If you have a service that’s not working, you shouldn’t have to be bound to it.”

In response, Sidney spent more than $5,000 erecting a local tower for radio communications, and town officials say it has resolved the coverage gaps.

In other matters, the Oakland council moved forward an unnecessary-noise ordinance, voting unanimously to post the ordinance in five public places for a first reading and public hearing during the council’s meeting Dec. 10.

The ordinance bans “unnecessary or unreasonable sound” between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. with several exemptions.

The ordinance gives Oakland police discretion to decide what constitutes a violation, setting fines of $100 for a first offense after the offender has been told by police to stop, up to $1,000 for a fourth and all subsequent offenses.

“The key word that I’ve got in here is may, not must or will, so that one word allows us to have officer discretion,” Bowman said.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

ebelanger[email protected]

Twitter: @ebelanger


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