Andrew Dys

Yogi Berra in Clover? Deja vu all over again as judge tosses cell tower denial again

In this file photo, neighbor Ed Dees Jr. left, and Town Council member Todd Blanton look over the site for a proposed cell tower in Clover.
In this file photo, neighbor Ed Dees Jr. left, and Town Council member Todd Blanton look over the site for a proposed cell tower in Clover. aburriss@heraldonline.com

Fans of the late Yogi Berra can look to Clover in western York County, where a cell tower that has never been built is the most controversial game in town, and a judge has ruled that it is Deja vu all over again.

The tower, dead twice, alive twice, is now alive again.

The issue is not having a tower. Everybody agrees a tower is needed. The concern is where to put a tower.

A judge late Tuesday tossed a May Clover zoning board of appeals decision that killed the tower, planned to be built just yards from homes and a church. Residents had packed two zoning meetings, with signs and loud voices and marches against the tower, calling it a monstrosity and other words that can’t be printed in a newspaper.

The debate was so heated that a county councilman, who is against the tower site because the people don’t want it, and a police officer had words and even a bit of a hands-on disagreement.

The judge ruled that the zoning board had no evidence whether the property is zoned industrial or residential when it ruled against the tower in May. So the board has to do it all over again. As it did before, when Clover had an illegal member of the board, and the first decision to allow the tower was tossed in January.

Yet what is clear is the opponents of the tower, which seems to include an overwhelming majority of town residents, have to fight again. And will. Ed Dees, a leading tower opponent who lives across the street from the proposed tower site, and Clover Town Councilman Todd Blanton have said they will fight as long as they have to.

”Absolutely, will fight on,” Blanton said Wednesday.

The ruling means that for the third time in a year, Clover’s zoning board will in coming weeks determine whether the town was right to give Towercom a permit, and have a 180-foot tower shadowing the people of Clover, which has no tall buildings.

Or the board could decide the people are right, that the tower should be in a spot where it won’t ruin property values or cause commotion and crises such as the possibility that a tower falls.

And no doubt, whatever that zoning board decides will get appealed again, through another lawsuit.

The judge, Jack Kimball, an expert with four decades of zoning and real estate experience, who has twice tossed the tower back to the zoning board, should keep his door open because everybody for and against the tower is coming back through it.

Kimball even wrote in his order that the loser in the next zoning decision can appeal - again.

Confused?

Don’t be. The issue is as simple as residents who don’t want a cell tower so close to where they live.

And it is a classic fight of Dees and his neighbors, dozens of them, against City Hall. Town Hall actually, because Clover is a town, not a city.

Although not a single person in the town has supported the tower in public meetings, dozens have come out against it. Yet the town says its own rules allow the tower.

The people of Clover and Dees, and his lawyer, Brian McCoy, who has argued cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, disagree that the town has followed the rules. McCoy said Wednesday that he will represent Dees and all his concerns over the tower at the next hearing.

“I had hoped the judge would affirm the decision of the (zoning) board, but we welcome the opportunity to present Mr. Dees’ case to the board on rehearing,” McCoy said.

The issue remains putting a tower 40 yards from people’s doors.

Lawyers for the tower company declined to comment on the decision. However, the lawyers have said in court and public hearings that the tower company has followed Clover rules and deserves a permit to build the tower on that spot.

Dees and tower foes are raising money to pay for the fight through a GoFundme page.

And what is coming soon is plenty of comments, for the third time, in a public hearing of the zoning board, where the people of Clover will say for the third time that the tower is calamity and a monstrosity and a nuisance and the chosen spot is just plain stupid.

The question in Clover, where a tower will be built so people can hear better on their cell phones, is: Will the tower company pick a different site?

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