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Item in The Northwest Current, 8/16/06

Dismantling starts on Tenley tower

Elizabeth Wiener

The infamous Tenleytown tower is finally coming down.

Last week, crews were on the site at 4623 41st St. to begin dismantling the huge half-built telecommunications tower that has loomed over the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Brandywine Street for six years. A worker was seen on a scaffold near the top of the flag-topped structure.

The saga of the tower is well-known. American Tower Corp. won permits to build a 756-foot telecommunications tower in 2000, near several smaller towers on what has been called Broadcast Hill. But nearby residents were alarmed at its planned size and height and launched a campaign to get it taken down.

District government officials quickly acknowledged that the tower did not meet zoning requirements and summarily revoked the building permits. But American Tower filed a $250 million lawsuit against the city, which dragged unsuccessfully through federal and local courts for the next few years. At one point, a city zoning administrator ordered the immediate removal of what he called "a public nuisance."

Last March, the city and tower company reached a settlement agreement that gave the company 10 days to apply for a demolition permit. The city agreed to pay $350,000 in unspecified damages.

A demolition permit was issued March 31, according to Karyn-Siobhan Robinson, spokesperson for the city Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

American Tower spokesperson Lori Philbin did not answer queries about the cost or duration of the demolition work, future of the site, or reasons for the delay in beginning work.

Philbin instead e-mailed a statement from the Boston-based company. It read:

"Our primary focus is removing the tower as expeditiously as possible while ensuring the safety of residents, contractors and anyone who passes within proximity of the site during the dismantling process.

"American Tower is working as quickly as possible to coordinate numerous contractors, public utilities and public safety professionals to ensure minimum disruption to businesses and vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood."

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