The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday voted against permitting T-Mobile to build a cell tower in a residential area near a protected wildlife habitat.
The move, however, is expected to draw out the already lengthy litigation between the city and the telecommunications company.
"I will have to support what my citizens would like to do," said Councilman Devin Dwyer, whose words were met with claps and cheers by the audience. "My fear is if we do lose this battle … we will have to put the towers in the parks. We need to win the whole war, guys."
T-Mobile proposed putting towers in two residential areas as a compromise after many residents objected to putting them in parks and the council denied the application. T-Mobile sued the city after the ruling and won, which required the matter to go before the council again. The council denied the application a second time, and T-Mobile sued again.
The two new locations are part of an effort to settle out of court.
The council voted Monday on the tower proposed for the Springdale Pump Station at 18401 Springdale St. The second location at the Huntington Harbour Mall is expected to come before the council Jan. 17.
Residents seem to support building the second cell tower there, said City Attorney Jennifer McGrath.
T-Mobile wants to build the towers to close a gap in data coverage.
Residents and the majority of the council, at the recommendation of city staff, said the Springdale Pump Station isn't the right place for a cell tower.
Councilman Matthew Harper was the only supporter of the tower, saying the area lacks reliable coverage, and voted against denying the permit.
"Living near them is fine," he said.
Residents said they feared a tower near the station would bring down property values and endanger the adjacent Bolsa Chica wetlands.
"I love this city, and I'm pro-business," said resident Billy O'Connell, who lives near the pump station. "This is not the right place for this tower. T-Mobile has not stepped up to the plate."
Two court hearings are scheduled Jan. 18 and 31 over the cell tower locations, McGrath said.