AT&T sues Rutherford County in cell tower dispute

Telecom claims BoZA denial violates federal law

AT&T is suing Rutherford County, claiming the denial of zoning permission for a cell tower violates federal law.

On Jan. 8, Rutherford County's Board of Zoning Appeals denied permission for AT&T to build a 159-foot cell tower on Veterans Boulevard west of Murfreesboro.

AT&T claims this denial violates the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which requires any denial of a facility for wireless service be supported in writing by "substantial evidence" and greatly limits the ability of local governments to deny facilities which telecoms say they need to provide adequate service.

AT&T says the only memorialization of the BOZA's denial it has received is a short memo which contains no "substantial evidence." Further, the company claims rapid growth in the area has created a coverage hole in that part of Rutherford County.

AT&T is asking the court to mandate that Rutherford County issue the necessary permits and permissions for the tower.