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Item in The Washington Post, 8/13/01

Tenleytown Tower Ruling to be Appealed

Bill Miller

More than 10 months after the D.C. government suddenly halted construction on a 756-foot telecommunications tower in Northwest Washington, the company behind the project is attempting to revive a lawsuit against the city.

Attorneys for American Towers Inc. said they hope to get the D.C. government's decision overruled, resume construction and collect huge damages.

"This isn't going to go away," said attorney John J. Brennan III. "The way we're looking at it, this is going to cost the District a lot of money."

The company began building the $5.6 million tower on 41st Street NW, near the Tenleytown Metro station, after securing city permits in March 2000. After community protest, the D.C. government revoked the building permit Oct. 5, stalling construction at 281 feet. The company responded with a federal lawsuit accusing the D.C. government of violating the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and other laws. The company, based in the Boston area, sought $250 million in damages.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman dismissed the suit in June, ruling that the federal laws did not apply in the case. Friedman said the company could pursue other legal claims in D.C. Superior Court or before the D.C. Board of Zoning Appeals.

Instead, American Towers asked Friedman to reconsider. The judge denied that request last week. Now, Brennan said, the company will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reinstate the case as a federal matter.

The company planned to use the tower for digital television, cellular phones and other wireless communications transmissions. But a citizens group, the Stop the Tower Coalition, complained about the tower's size and location.

Jo Cooper, a coalition leader, said, "We'll stay on the case until the tower comes down."

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