Court makes historic ruling on cellphone antennas

Cellphone companies must receive building approval even for small antennas and to report the locations of "wireless access mechanisms" on rooftops.

The Tel Aviv District Court has made an unprecedented ruling requiring cellphone companies to receive building approval even for small antennas and to report the locations of so-called "wireless access mechanisms" on rooftops, reports Herzliya Mayor Yael German, who has led the fight against the cellphone companies, hailed the ruling as a "historic decision that will create justice for the public." According to the report, until now cellphone companies wishing to erect antennas on rooftops have avoided the legal requirement to receive building approval from local councils by hiding the antennas inside small boxes they term "wireless access mechanisms." Such access mechanisms are legally exempt from the need for local building approval, and the report said more than 1,000 of them have been installed across Israel over the past two years. Some years ago, the Tel Aviv Magistrates' Court upheld the exemptions. But the Herzliya and Ramat Gan city councils appealed against the decision to the Tel Aviv District Court, saying the so-called "access mechanisms" are nothing but a ruse by the cellphone companies to avoid their obligation to inform the public of the locations of antennas and to avoid supervision by local authorities. The case continued for almost three years, until last week when the court came to its landmark decision. The report said that although some magistrates' courts in Israel have supported the local authorities' positions in the past, this is the first time a higher court has done so, and its decision is binding and wide-ranging. Mayor German said she was delighted with the decision. "I see in the court's decision a historic decision that will create justice for the public and will stop the cellphone companies from defrauding the general citizenry of Israel," German said. "This ruling is proof that if you are determined and if you fight a just war for your rights, in the end you will win." No comment was reported from the cellphone companies.