Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

State v. AT&T Mobility, LLC

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20125
Nos. A11-1725, (Minn. Ct. App., 06/18/2012)

A Minnesota appellate court reversed a lower court decision permanently enjoining the construction of a 450-foot wireless-communications tower outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), a 1.1 million-acre wilderness area composed of federal and state lands in northeastern Minnesota. The lower court concluded that the proposed tower would have a materially adverse effect on scenic and aesthetic resources in the BWCAW. While the court's conclusion that the BWCAW has special historical significance was not erroneous, it failed to weigh and analyze the relative severity of the adverse effect of the proposed tower on scenic views in the BWCAW. Less than 50% of the proposed tower will be visible from less than 1% of the BWCAW's 1,175 lakes, several of which have scenic views that include signs of human existence. Moreover, the court made no findings as to what degree of visibility from the less-than 1% of the lakes reaches the "severe" threshold. In addition, the court did not find a significant consequential effect on other natural resources, and it failed to address whether the potential decrease in scenic views is significant. An injunction under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act, therefore, was not warranted.