Montego Bay To Deny Small-Cell Towers

OCEAN CITY – While the Town of Ocean City continues its battles against allowing small-cell towers in certain residential neighborhoods, at least one north-end community has taken a stand against the towers on its association-owned property.

Over the last couple of years, the Mayor and Council has denied applications from private-sector company Crown Castle to place tall small-cell towers on municipal property and easements in the Caine Woods community and in the Montego Bay community. For the record, Crown Castle installs small- cell towers and nodes around the resort area and contracts with wireless providers such as Verizon and Sprint, for example, to provide hardware.

Crown Castle has filed a pair of lawsuits in federal court challenging the denial of applications for small- cell towers in the north-end neighborhoods. Recently, a federal judge agreed to merge the two cases in the interest of expediency and they continue to move forward after attempts by the town to have them dismissed have been denied.

Meanwhile, the Montego Bay community has been taking action on its own behalf in an attempt to prevent the proliferation of small-cell towers. During a general membership meeting in August, Montego Bay resident Holly Donovan made a motion to that effect.

“The Board of the Montego Bay Civic Association, Inc. shall not move forward with any contract, lease or agreement that would allow placement or siting of cell towers or any type of wireless telecommunications antennas or equipment in association easements, on lamp posts or in or on other facilities owned by the MBCA unless specifically authorized through affirmative majority vote by referendum of membership,” the motion read.

The motion passed by a majority roll call vote of the general membership at 138-22.

However, in December, Montego Bay Civic Association (MBCA) leadership contacted Donovan and reportedly told her some of the verbiage in the approved motion would need to be changed, or the issue would be put out to referendum for the community membership.

The motion passed in August withstood the legal challenge and a special general membership meeting was called for January 24 to discuss the issue. At that meeting, the MBCA Board voted unanimously at 8-0 to let that motion stand and not put the question on a referendum ballot.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.