Atotonilquenses win battle against Centennial Towers
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
After six months of a legal battle between inhabitants of Atotonilco and the local administration against Centennial Towers, finally the cell tower installed in the World Heritage area was removed.
On Friday, September 13, the inhabitants of Atotonilco found out that a cell tower was installed near the river during the night. Immediately, the neighbors called the local authorities to have them do an inspection to determine whether the installation of the structure was legal. The owners of the property could not prove the legality of the structure, nor could Centennial Towers. However, municipal employees did not have access to the property to suspend the work.
Because the local government did not give a quick answer to the residents, they decided to take down a reed fence on the property so the public servants could get in and cancel the work. Later, the owners of the land filed a criminal complaint against the inhabitants of Atotonilco because of the damage. In order to avoid any type of work in the area of the antenna, the atotonilquenses decided to hold a permanent demonstration, and on a property located in front of the antenna they installed a tent, where they stayed on guard 24/7 for six months.
On November 12, the Urban Development Department granted a permit to the owners of the land to reinstall the fence, but when the company arrived to perform the work it was impeded by the inhabitants of Atotonilco, supported by more than 150 penitents from the House of Spiritual Retreats of the Shrine of Atotonilco.
In March of this year, finally the cell tower was removed, said Josefina Ramírez, and although it is a triumph, she said, they are not totally in agreement because the owners of the property reinstalled the fence, and that fence gives a bad image to the site, and in addition it was the route the insurgents took on their way to San Miguel de Allende from Atotnilco. “The street needs to be wider,” she concluded.
According to Ramírez, another cell tower is being installed in the area known as El Mezquite, next to Atotonilco, but she made it clear that they will not do anything to stop it because it is not in the World Heritage area. She added, however, that if the residents ask for help they will support them.
Centennial Towers is the company that installed the antenna. According to its website, they offer services related to cell sites such as Build to Suit, which offers operators acquisition of the land, processing of permits and the installation of towers. “Centennial Towers has roofs and towers, adequate to host multiple operators,” states its site.
The contract with the owners of the property was signed for a term of 15 years and was going to expire on August 8, 2028, with an extension of five more years. Yearly, the company would pay 138,461 pesos plus IVA to the landowner. The document included a clause that stated that the company would start the process to get all the needed permits for erecting the antenna but if the permits were not granted the contract would be cancelled.