State court’s reversal blocks proposed Unity cellphone tower |

State court’s reversal blocks proposed Unity cellphone tower

Jeff Himler

A plan by Verizon Wireless to improve its coverage with a proposed cellphone tower in Unity hit a new snag Friday as Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of neighboring property owners who are opposed to the 150-foot structure off Arnold Palmer Drive.

In his opinion on behalf of the state court, Judge P. Kevin Brobson reversed Westmoreland County President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr.’s Oct. 27, 2016 ruling that the Unity Township Zoning Hearing Board had incorrectly denied a special exception developer SBA Towers needs to build the tower at Pershing Park in the residentially-zoned neighborhood.

McCormick said the zoning panel abused its discretion in objecting to the tower on safety and health issues and on several other grounds.

McCormick’s ruling was appealed by neighboring residents Dr. Chris and Jill Bellicini, James and Megan McIntosh, Edward and Kathy Sobota and Christopher and Lynn Schmauch — who included arguments in their filing based on eight issues.

“Both Judge McCormick and the appellate court took the time to thoroughly analyze all the issues,” said Greensburg attorney Bernie Matthews, who represented the residents. “The Commonwealth Court agreed with Judge McCormick on some of the issues and disagreed with him on others. Those were enough to reverse the decision.

“It’s the result that we wanted,”

Attorney Joseph Cortese, who has represented Verizon in the tower dispute, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. SBA Towers and Verizon have 30 days to decide if they want to pursue the case further and petition the state Supreme Court to hear it.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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