Vertical Bridge filed a lawsuit last week against Lake County, Montana, stating that there is a well-known gap in mobile coverage near the Finley Point area of Polson, Montana, and an unnamed carrier wants to fix it. Still, Vertical Bridge claims that Lake County’s onerous restriction of only allowing a 30-foot tall tower violates the towerco’s “federal rights” under the Telecommunications Act after the county denied two applications.
On March 31, 2023, Vertical Bridge submitted a conditional use permit application and two variance applications to construct a 160-foot monopine. The first variance application was to build the structure 130 feet over the 30-foot limitation.
The second variance was from the county’s requirement that the tower be constructed within 500 feet of the centerline of Highway 35.
In its application, Vertical Bridge said that because of the topography on and around where the tower would be erected – on property owned by International RV, surrounding the Paradise Pines mobile home properties, it prevented the need to construct a taller, undisguised tower at a height of 250 feet.
The Board of Adjustment denied the first applications on April 18, 2023. During a hearing on April 12, 2023, the Board suggested that the application would be more amenable if Vertical Bridge collocated a second carrier.
On June 7, 2023, Vertical Bridge resubmitted its application with documentation that a second carrier would be on the tower once it was constructed.
On July 18, 2023, the Board issued a written denial of the second application based on the tower’s height, and the tower was outside of the 500-foot centerline of Highway 35.
Vertical Bridge argues in its complaint that the county’s height limitation of 30 feet is a local regulation and/or requirement and no cell tower has ever been constructed near Finley Point because it is impossible to provide adequate coverage with a 30-foot structure, and the Board’s denial violates the TCA and Vertical Bridge is asking the court to prohibit the defendants from denying the applications.