Can the Government tell us what to do with our property?

More than two years ago, Juan Dominguez of Rio Arriba County entered into a leasing agreement with T-Mobile, allowing them to place a cell tower on his property. The tower gives reception to many cell users in the Chimayo area.
Some citizens in the area have banded together to form the Chimayo Council on Wireless Technology. The Council feels that the appearance of the cell tower desecrates sacred sites within eyeshot, such as the Plaza del Cerro (an original colonial Spanish plaza) and a commonly used pilgrimage route to the Santuario de Chimayo. They also say that the tower defiles the hills around Chimayo, which are venerated by the Tewa people. In fact, the town is named after one of these hills, Tsi-Mayoh.
Unfortunately for the Council, Mr. Dominguez owns the property on which the tower is located, not the citizens of Chimayo, nor any body of religious people or historic preservationists. He has given his consent for placement of the tower. Nonetheless, the Council has correctly asserted, according to the State Historic Preservation Office, that T-Mobile had some errors in its application to the county government, including incorrect coordinates for its location.
SHPO is requiring T-Mobile to resubmit a corrected application, after which state officers will evaluate the tower’s level of historical malevolence. If they deem that the tower is violating the visual pleasance of historical sites, the state office will escalate the case to the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which, under authority granted to it by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, may “make recommendations regarding historic preservation to the… heads of… federal agencies.” The federal agency involved in this case would be the Federal Communications Commission, which will make the final determination should the matter remain unresolved.
Sound like a bureaucratic nightmare? And all poor Mr. Dominguez wanted was to make some extra cash. T-Mobile has said that they cannot relocate the tower and keep their service effective. Not only are multiple levels of government involvement encroaching on Mr. Dominguez’ property rights, but they may also be hindering T-Mobile’s ability to run its company successfully in the area.
If the folks at the Chimayo Council on Wireless Technology have as much support from the community as they claim, they should consider buying Mr. Dominguez’s property or at least they could purchase the right not to have a tower built on the property.

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