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May 10, 2010

Why We Didn't Go

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

I received a couple of telephone messages over the past two days concerning our church’s rejection to meet with the Borough of New Milford mayor and council concerning the T-Mobile cellular flag pole that could be erected on a small part of our church property. Under advisement of my personal attorney, I will not respond to issues relating to the flag pole. But after speaking with him this morning, my private attorney (not Saint Matthew’s attorney) approved the following for publication here on the blog:

On behalf of the Mayor and Council, Borough of New Milford Administrator/Clerk, Christine Demiris, reached out to Saint Matthew’s through me via a telephone message and subsequent telephone conversation. Mrs. Demiris said that Mayor Frank DeBari and the Borough Council asked her to contact us to set up a meeting time at a council’s work session so that our church’s trustees and myself could meet them to discuss the cellular flag pole issue. She explained that since Saint Matthew’s and the council had not discussed the issue of the cellular flag pole before, it made sense to sit down and talk. It was suggested that we could meet with the council privately prior to their 7:00pm work session, possibly at 6:30pm. After speaking with her, I passed her message onto the leadership of our church, who in turn, called a Voters Body meeting on a Sunday to discuss the possibility of meeting with local officials.

Suffice to say, no one had any qualms about meeting with town officials. We’ve always respected the leaders of New Milford and have a good working relationship with them. However, we were a little surprised that they wanted to meet with us now considering that they are appealing a court case against our leasee, T-Mobile, the cellular company who we’ve contracted with to lease a portion of our property for a cellular flag pole.

After discussing it, we decided not to attend the meeting simply because the Borough is in litigation against the leasee of our property. Some were worried that the meeting was being called in an effort to coerce and pressure the church to violate the contract we signed with T-Mobile. In fact, T-Mobile’s attorney’s said as much in a letter they sent to the Borough’s outside counsel.

Saint Matthew’s has always been willing to sit down and talk with Borough officials about the cellular flag pole. This has never been an issue. We respect our elected and appointed officials and honor their public service to the people of New Milford. But while they are in litigation against our leasee, it is inappropriate to meet with the Mayor and Council as a church to discuss this matter. When all litigation is complete, Saint Matthew’s is more than willing to sit down and talk about the issue with our borough leaders.

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