Wireless communications firm T-Mobile South has sued DeKalb County a second time. According to the Daily Report Online T-Mobile says its leasing deal with the DeKalb County Board of Education to erect towers at nine of the county's public schools exempts it from local zoning laws the county is attempting to enforce. The company filed suit in U.S. District Court on Dec. 20, asking the court to force the county to issue a land development permit so it can build a wireless tower at the Margaret Harris Comprehensive School in Atlanta. In October, T-Mobile sued to force the county to allow construction of a tower at Lakeside High School. That suit is also pending before Thrash.
There is prior case law that shows an exemption to local zoning ordinances only applies when building is for an educational/governmental purpose on publicly owned property such as schools. T-mobile towers were contracted for purely a revenue enhancing purpose for the school system and a profit center/tax avoidance purpose for the telecom company. Advocates for safe school grounds are hopeful that the judge will throw the lawsuit out for having no merit.
T-mobile's contract with the DeKalb School Board stated that it would not go into effect unless permits were secured. If funds were paid by T-mobile for lease of our school grounds without the permit approvals, the School Board should vote to reimburse the funds to T-mobile and legally declare the contracts to be ended.
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