|Monopine-style cell tower|
Issue: The question before the Court is whether a document from a state or local government stating that an application has been denied, but providing no reasons whatsoever for the denial, can satisfy the Communications Act’s “in writing” requirement.
Holding: In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 332(c)(7)(B)(iii) requires localities to provide reasons when they deny applications to build cell phone towers. This conclusion follows from the Act’s provisions, which both preserve and specifically limit traditional state and local government authority. It would be considerably difficult for a reviewing court to determine whether a locality’s denial was supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record or whether a locality had unreasonably discriminated among providers of functionally equivalent services or regulated siting on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions if localities were not obligated to state their reasons for denial.