Community News

A federal appeals court has temporarily stopped T-Mobile from getting a permit to build a cell tower on the United Methodist Church property in Anacortes.

The ruling will hold off the city’s issuance of a building permit until an additional court hearing is held. 

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges William Fletcher and Johnnie Rawlinson Thursday granted the city’s motion to stay an earlier court ruling that the city should issue the permit. The judges also ordered that the new court hearing be held quickly, with opening and answering briefs due in mid-December.

T-Mobile appliied for a building permit on Sept. 25, prompting the city to pursue an injunction on Oct. 2 to prevent the city from issuing it. The city would normally issue a permit within three weeks of a permit request. 

Mayor Dean Maxwell has fought the construction of a cell phone tower on the church’s property. The City Council this past summer approved an emergency ordinance that imposes minimal controls on cell towers.

The Federal Telecommunications Act says local jurisdictions cannot prevent the construction of cell towers, but localities may impose limited restrictions, including the placement of towers.

The Anacortes case hinges, in part, on another case now before the Ninth Circuit Court involving Spring and the City of San Diego over the issue of federal pre-emption of local controls.