While Memphis residents continue to stake their claims against a proposed tower site on Lindell Boulevard on the west edge of town, the erection of a second tower commenced this week.
In the shadows of the new construction efforts continued to require the Federal Communications Commission and the proposed tower’s owner, Wireless Investment Partnership, L.L.C. to address alleged defects in the application process for the 300 foot structure that has been proposed near a residential area of the city.
The latest battle in the war against the tower site is steeped in history, literally. The FCC required new efforts by the tower company to review potential conflicts with historical sites in the community after it was determined the initial application efforts had not met requirements.
A public notice was published October 17th providing the opportunity for public comments as they relate to the tower’s impact on historic sites as related to Section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act.
In the 15-day allotted comment period, a number of letters were directed to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) highlighting a wide variety of local properties in close proximity to the tower which by definition would be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
During that time, a completed inventory of said sites was located at the Scotland County Library. The inventory was actually believed to have been part of a grant administered through the Missouri State Historical Society, however it does not appear that it was every actually filed with the governing body.
Efforts led by local attorney Kevin Brown and property owner Brent Walker, identified no fewer than 46 properties within a 3/4 mile distance from the proposed tower site that would by definition qualify to be considered as historical sites based on the historic inventory created by John Thomas in 1987 and recorded with the Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission.
This information was recently shared with the FCC as well as the State Historic Preservation Office.
“The Applicant, by intentionally limiting the influence of parties otherwise entitled under federal law to consult on the project, engaged in one-sided communications with the SHPO, and acted to circumvent Federal law by excluding other consulting parties from the Section 106 process for purposes of establishing an application which fails to meaningfully or reasonably represent the scope or breadth of historical properties and cultural resources affected, either directly or indirectly, by the proposed tower project,” Brown said in a letter to the FCC opposing the tower application. “This blatant skirting of Federal regulatory law contravenes the stated purpose of the NHPA and works to serve only the narrow interests of the Applicant while ignoring the effects of the FCC’s undertaking on historically and culturally sensitive properties.”
Because of these issues, Brown requested the FCC to deny ASR application No. 1133306 outright, or at a minimum, require the applicant to restart the process from its inception to ensure true compliance with due process granted to all parties impacted by the proceedings.
Brown went on to question the efforts of the FCC and the SHPO, both of which he noted are legally obligated to act on behalf of the residents the two governing bodies are tasked to protect.
“At no time did the Missouri SHPO act in any way, prior to any determination as to the appropriate scope of the application, or the SHPO’s issuance of its determination of ‘no adverse effect on historic properties,’ to cooperate with, or to even contact, any local government entity – such as the Scotland County Commission, or the Board of Alderman of the City of Memphis, Missouri,” Brown said in his letter to the FCC. “Nor is there any indication that the SHPO ever sought input from organizations like the Scotland County Historical Society, of which the Downing House Museum Complex is part, or any other local individuals with a demonstrated interest in the undertaking due to their legal or economic relation to the undertaking or affected properties, or their concern with the undertaking’s effects on historic properties.”
“Further, there is no indication that any FCC official ever attempted to consult with or to even contact any local government representative for purposes of receiving input regarding the Section 106 process, as required by Federal law. These individuals would have been able to provide significant information regarding the existence, location, and nature of historical properties, as well as their significance to the character of the area and to the local population. Their input would have been invaluable in determining an adequate application.”
The arguments against the tower application as related to impacts on historic sites are the latest in a long-line of grievances aired by the concerned citizens group as related to the tower application on Lindell Boulevard.
Brown noted that Section 106 debate related to the historic sites appears to be the first area of response by the FCC and the tower applicant, adding that he expects the various other areas of concern to eventually be addressed before any application is approved.