Judge says Carmel agreement was illegal
In litigation that will sound familiar to residents of Philipstown and Nelsonville, a group of Town of Carmel residents has prevailed — for now — in a legal battle with Homeland Towers and Verizon Wireless, which want to erect a 140-foot cell tower in their neighborhood.
The neighbors told The Journal News they had spent nearly $100,000 on legal fees over two years to fight the tower. A state judge ruled this week that Carmel officials made an illegal agreement with Homeland and Verizon to place a tower on Walton Drive without review by its planning and zoning boards.
The judge also said a Town Board member should not have voted on the plan because he is a member of the homeowners’ association that leases the land to Verizon.
Homeland Towers sued Philipstown and Nelsonville in 2018 after the town and village denied permits for 140-to-180-foot and 110-foot towers, respectively. Both cases ended with settlements, but the Nelsonville tower is embroiled in litigation with neighbors who argue Homeland does not have the legal access it needs to develop the proposed tower site overlooking the Cold Spring Cemetery.
Homeland also plans to construct a 160-foot tower behind the clubhouse at the Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac.
The Carmel plan had been drawn up by the town attorney and an attorney for Homeland Towers and Verizon, according to The Journal News. The planning and zoning boards in 2018 rejected an application from Homeland and Verizon to build towers at two locations in Mahopac; when Homeland and Verizon sued, Carmel officials offered the site near Walton Drive as part of a settlement.
Officials did not inform residents until after the agreement was signed, according to The Journal News. The settlement stated that Homeland and Verizon only needed to obtain a building permit, without further review.
Rob Cavallaro, a resident who led the opposition, said five neighbors kicked in to pay the legal fees. “There’s a small balance we are still paying,” he told The Journal News. “It hurts. But something had to be done. And hopefully Homeland Towers goes away.”