BZA Has New Attorney in Cell Tower Case

August 31st, 2009 by WY Daily Staff

BZA Has New Attorney in Cell Tower Case

Members of the James City County Board of Zoning Appeals have a new attorney to see them through legal proceedings over a pair of proposed cell towers in Kingsmill.

The BZA voted unanimously Friday night to hire Doug Miller of Patten, Wornom, Hatten and Diamonstein in Newport News. Miller will help the board prepare for a Sept. 21 hearing in Gloucester Circuit Court.

The BZA had met in closed session to interview Miller. Member Jack Fraley said Miller’s fee would be paid by a citizens group who has raised funds for the BZA since the county declined to represent the board in the cell tower case. Read a story about the history of the case here.

Donald Patten, a partner in the firm, had been providing the BZA counsel pro bono. The case pits a quasi-judicial government body appointed by the Circuit Court – the BZA – against the county, cell tower companies and the Kingsmill Community Services Association, which serves the interests of corporate owner Busch Properties.

The case began in March 2008, when the JCC planning director approved the wireless companies’ plans to erect the towers near the Kingsmill soccer field. A Kingsmill citizens’ group formed to oppose the towers appealed that decision, and the question ended up before the county’s Development Review Committee, whose members agreed with the recommendation. The citizens’ group appealed again, this time to the BZA, whose members voted against the proposal.

That sent the issue to Williamsburg-James City Circuit Court Judge Samuel Powell’s courtroom, which might have been where it was heard if not for the judge’s nephew being employed by the cell towers’ legal team. The judge recused himself, and the issue is now being heard by Judge R. Bruce Long in Gloucester Circuit Court. The latest story about the case can be read here.

Miller has ties to Williamsburg. He earned his law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary, graduating third in his class in 1995. While in law school he served on the staff and editorial board of the Law Review. He was also a member of the school’s National Moot Court team, which earned the Best Brief award and finished second overall in the 1995 National Moot Court Tournament. Upon graduation, he was selected by the law school faculty to receive the Lawrence W. Iâ€2Anson Award. The honor, which recognizes scholarship, character and leadership, is named for the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia and former president of the Board of Directors of the Williamsburg-based National Center for State Courts.

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