Newmeyer Dillion Secures Victory for Crown Castle in Years-Long Litigation With City Council of Piedmont Over Small Cell Wireless Telecommunications Sites
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – DECEMBER 6, 2019 – Newmeyer Dillion, a prominent business and real estate law firm, is pleased to announce that, on November 18, 2019, the City Council of the City of Piedmont unanimously voted to approve the installation of 17 small cell wireless telecommunications sites by Newmeyer Dillion client Crown Castle NG West LLC, the leading provider of shared communications infrastructure in the United States. This victory ends a long-running legal dispute over Crown Castle’s small cell wireless network, which was vehemently opposed by Piedmont residents and previously rejected by the City Council, prompting Newmeyer Dillion to bring a lawsuit against the city in 2017.
The dispute began in 2016 when Crown Castle filed an application with the City Council of the City of Piedmont to build nine small cell wireless sites designed to provide critical wireless telecommunications coverage in Piedmont. In October 2017, the Council denied the network, rejecting some of the proposed sites or approving others with onerous conditions.
Newmeyer Dillion’s Government, Land Use and Environmental practice group filed a lawsuit on behalf of Crown Castle in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in November 2017, challenging the Council’s decision. Drawing from the language established in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the lawsuit alleged that Piedmont’s ordinances established an unreasonably high bar of approval, unlawfully prohibiting telecommunications services in the city.
The city quickly requested a court-supervised settlement, which was approved by the City Council in December 2018 and allowed Crown Castle to reapply to build 17 small cell wireless telecommunications facilities. The unanimous City Council approval came after extensive mediation work between the two parties.
“We are excited that our years-long efforts have culminated in this major win for Crown Castle, allowing them to build out critical telecommunications infrastructure in the City of Piedmont,” said Michael Shonafelt, partner at Newmeyer Dillion. “With the growing national need for robust telecommunications networks that can handle voice communication and modern data demands, approvals such as this are significant, not just for the community the network serves, but for the viability of the national telecommunications network as a whole. Our team is proud to be using our multidisciplinary, business-oriented approach to successfully advise clients navigating these issues.”