Whether AT&T Wireless should be allowed to install new cell phone antennas on a San Pablo Avenue rooftop is now a question for federal court.
AT&T filed a lawsuit against Albany on Wednesday in response to the to deny the company's plans to improve cell phone service in the city.
AT&T is requesting a court order that would require the city to grant the company's application to construct new antennas on the rooftop at 1035 San Pablo Ave.
AT&T and city officials have not responded to requests for comment yet.
According to the formal complaint (attached as a PDF to the right), AT&T claims that the council's decision "effectively prohibited AT&T from closing a significant service coverage gap in the City," which violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
AT&T also points to the fact that the rooftop that it wants to use already has Sprint antennas.
See all of Albany Patch's cell tower coverage.
"By denying AT&T's Application even though Sprint was allowed to install its facility on the rooftop of the Site, the City is discriminating against AT&T," the complaint states.
AT&T chose that specific San Pablo rooftop because of a section in Albany's municipal code that mandates new wireless communication facilities be co-located with existing facilities whenever possible, according to the complaint.
But the Planning & Zoning Commission , and again in May. The commissioners cited the city's rules about rooftop coverage as the reason for the denial, saying there was not enough room on the building's roof.
AT&T appealed to the City Council, . Before the second meeting, AT&T submitted revised plans that the company argued would have met the rooftop requirements.
But city officials said it was too little, too late, and in a split 3-2 vote the council upheld the planning commission's decision.
In the formal complaint, AT&T argues that the council's decision was not supported by substantial evidence, pointing to the contradiction between the city's co-location mandate and its rooftop coverage limitations.
AT&T also claims the City Council relied on public concerns about radio frequency emissions——in making its decision, which violates the Telecommunications Act.
AT&T's efforts over the last four years to install new cell phone antennas in Albany have elicited passionate responses from both and .
Several residents feared the City Council's decision in July would lead to a lawsuit.
AT&T has requested an expedited review of the case, though that request has not yet been granted.