EBENSBURG – A group of residents who live near the proposed site for a cell tower in Upper Yoder Township filed a land use appeal in May against the township zoning hearing board, Westmont Hilltop School District and Vogue Towers, and they have continued their fight against the project.
In March, following two public hearings on the matter, Upper Yoder Township’s zoning and hearing board approved a height variance needed to build the 195-foot tower in a residential zone behind Westmont Hilltop High School.
First responders urged the board to approve the tower for safety reasons, citing concerns about the lack of cell phone coverage and 911 radio communications in the area. Residents with nearby properties, however, objected to the move, saying the tower would “dominate” the neighborhood’s landscape and negatively affect their property values.
On May 7, Citizens of Upper Woodmont Group filed a land use appeal based on those concerns through Johnstown attorney Brian Litzinger. The group includes 25 residents who live on Woodmont Road, Champagne Avenue, Winchester Drive and Jeffrey Drive.
The appeal says the township zoning hearing board vote to grant the variance was unlawful and asks the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas to reverse the decision.
In June, Senior Judge Timothy Creany denied a motion to quash the appeal from Vogue Towers and the township zoning hearing board, saying the Citizens of Upper Woodmont Group had standing to file the appeal because the group “is directly and adversely affected by the board’s decision.”
Attorney Michael Parrish filed an answer last week on behalf of Vogue Towers and the township zoning hearing board, which says the zoning hearing board did not commit an error of law or abuse its discretion.
“The Zoning Hearing Board made explicit findings that the testimony and/or evidence of those in favor of the requested variances was credible,” the answer states. “The Zoning Hearing Board made explicit findings that the testimony and/or evidence of those opposed to the requested variances was not credible.”