Supreme court: Tower stays

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 12, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

The debate is over. The Supreme Court of Alabama has ruled in favor of the County.

It’s been almost a year since the City of Selma filed suit against Dallas County, claiming the 120-foot interoperable communications tower, located just behind the Dallas County Courthouse, was illegally constructed.

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According to city officials, the County violated the law by not applying for a permit before the structure went up.

The basis for the City’s case was that the County violated Ordinance 10-9091, &8220;An Ordinance to Provide for Designation of Historic Properties or Historic Districts&8221; and Ordinance COS 013-00/01, &8220;A Local Ordinance Regulating the siting of Wireless Telecommunications Facilities.&8221;

The County argued that no city ordinances had been violated, as the tower construction and operation was a governmental function and therefore, need not comply with city ordinances.

After the Dallas County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the County, the City appealed the case.

Again, the County was victorious.

Neither Ballard nor Perkins had laid eyes on the actual ruling on paper, but both had been notified as of Saturday, March 10.

Both officials said they wished the case had not gone to court.

Perkins said he wished &8220;the county would not have erected the tower at 6 a.m.&8221; and would have followed City Ordinance.

Perkins also said he believed the difference could have been resolved had both parties been willing to sit down and talk about it.

Ballard said he hopes the ruling &8220;puts an end to the controversy.&8221;

The interoperable tower and communications equipment were purchased with funds awarded from a 2004 grant. The tower would allow emergency responders within the county and state to be able to communicate with each other during emergency situations.

According to officials, the Selma Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and County volunteer fire departments, among other emergency responders, operate on different frequencies. The new equipment would serve as a bridge, allowing emergency personnel to communicate with each other.