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Item in The Northwest Current, 10/12/05

Regulators still seek Tenley tower removal

Elizabeth Wiener

City regulators still hope to tear down the half-built telecommunications tower in Tenleytown, but their legal battle with American Tower Inc. is moving at a snail's pace.

Last February, then zoning administrator Toye Bello issued an order to "remove the structure within 90 business days." But the company appealed, and D.C. Superior Court Judge Natalia Combs Greene granted an injunction preventing the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs from enforcing that order.

Now the city Office of Attorney General is appealing Combs Greene's decision to the D.C. Court of Appeals. The office's spokesperson, Traci Hughes, said a hearing date has not yet been set. "It's still in limbo," Hughes said.

The case began in 2000, when the regulatory office issued a permit for what was to be a 756-foot-tall tower at 4623 41st St. A year later, in response to an outcry from nearby residents, the office cited a variety of zoning errors and rescinded the permits. The company has since lost federal and local lawsuits against the city, but the tower still stands.

Robert Cave, American Tower's attorney in the District, said recently that - from American Tower's perspective - "there's nothing new since the injuction was entered."

But Theresa Lewis, the regulatory department's deputy director, said at a meeting in late September that if the department wins the right to tear down the tower, it would not be at city expense. "If we take it down, we'll place a lien on the property," Lewis said.

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