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Overview

Cell Tower and Telecommunications Attorney

Cell Tower WebinarJohn is a member of the firm's Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Team. Since 1996 he has represented property owners across the country (often municipalities) on the sale of over 85 cell tower leases. The sales were to companies such as American Tower, Crown Castle, SBA Communications, Tarpon Towers, Lease Advisors, Everest Infrastructure Partners and Landmark Dividend. He has also represented clients on the grant, renewal and modification of cell tower leases with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Many of these leases and sales were for antennas on or near buildings, smokestacks, water towers or other structures and thus were particularly complicated so as to protect the client's use of the property for its primary purpose, and for future development. His clients include institutions (real estate companies, municipalities, schools, churches, businesses) as well as individuals (land owners, real estate developers) and trusts. John used to hold a Federal Communications Commission license to work on radio, TV and ship radar transmitters, which helps him in his work on cell tower leases.

John also represents municipalities on telecommunications matters such as the grant, renewal and transfer of cable franchises; FCC proceedings; and cell tower zoning, leasing and the sale of cell tower leases.  He has worked with over 200 communities in 15 states on such matters. John lives in Arizona, travels a lot, and, as befits a telecommunications lawyer, "telecommutes" to work most of the time.

Experience

Experience

Ohio City, as co-counsel with Law Department, represent large Ohio city on $11 million sale to Everest Infrastructure Partners of 15 cell antenna leases and future leasing rights for locations on water towers, an office building, a utility generating station and on other city lands, with detailed legal descriptions to be surveyed and provided post-closing.

 Michigan Individual, Small Business, represent Michigan individual and family business on respective sales of cell tower leases and future leasing rights to American Tower.

Georgia Real Estate Investor, as co-counsel with Georgia counsel, represent Georgia real estate investor on sale of cell tower lease and future leasing rights to Verizon subsidiary on behalf of American Tower.

Distressed Debt Fund, as co-counsel with Pennsylvania counsel, represent distressed debt fund on offering and sale of two cell tower leases located on Pennsylvania mining property on which fund had foreclosed, with one sale being to Tarpon Towers and the other being to Crown Castle.

Wisconsin Municipality, as co-counsel with municipal attorney and Wisconsin real estate counsel, represent municipality on sale to Landmark Dividend of three cell antenna leases located on two separate water towers and future leasing rights only as to leased antenna locations (municipality retains the right to lease out or otherwise use balance of the towers), and with real estate counsel assist on resolving discrepancies between surveys and legal descriptions in documents.

Indiana City, as co-counsel with City attorney's office and Indiana real estate counsel, represent City on sale to Landmark Dividend of five cell antenna leases located on three separate City water towers and future leasing rights only as to leased antenna locations (City retains the right to lease out or otherwise use balance of the towers).

Kansas Real Estate Developer, as co-counsel with Kansas real estate counsel, represent Kansas real estate company on sale to American Tower of two cell tower leases and future leasing rights to portion of a commercial property.

California Real Estate Developer, as co-counsel with California counsel, as part of rehabilitation and redevelopment of an older central city office tower, represent California real estate developer on sale to Landmark Dividend of both a rooftop cell antenna lease and future leasing rights and also two long-term data center leases (AT&T and Verizon) and future leasing rights.

Virginia Commercial Real Estate Company, as co-counsel with Virginia condominium and real estate attorneys, represent Virginia real estate company on concurrent: spinoff to  a sister company of four rooftop antenna leases (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint) and 50-year rooftop communications easement for office building recently acquired by the real estate company; bid process and sale of leases and easement to SBA Communications; addressing right of first refusal on lease sale contained in AT&T lease; conversion of building to office condominiums with preservation of joint usage of portions of rooftop by condominium association and unit owners; and renewal of T-Mobile lease.

Michigan Trust, with trust counsel, represent Detroit area trust on sale to SBA Communications of cell tower lease and future leasing rights for cell site located adjacent to trust land planned for future development, with provisions preserving such land for development.

Ohio Businessman/Investor, as co-counsel with Ohio attorney, represent Ohio businessman/real estate investor, along with his Ohio corporate counsel, on potential sale of three cell tower leases and future leasing rights.

New York City Area Municipality, as co-counsel with Town Attorney's office,  represent town on sale to SBA Communications of Sprint cell tower lease and three subsequent co-location revenue sharing leases and future leasing rights.

Alaska Business, as co-counsel with Alaska real estate counsel, represent Alaska real estate company on evaluation of sale of AT&T cell tower lease and future leasing rights.

Miami Area Condominium, as co-counsel with local counsel for condominium, represent it on sale to Landmark Dividend of two rooftop cell antenna leases and future leasing rights.

Detroit Area City, represent City and its Emergency Manager on both sale to SBA Communications of  two cell tower leases and future leasing rights and related sale to SBA of a city owned cell tower, lease with Verizon and future leasing rights and cancellation of abandoned AT&T lease for tower in question, while retaining portions of the tower for city communications uses.

Florida Business, as co-counsel with local real estate counsel, represent Florida business on sale of rooftop lease and leasing rights to Wireless Capital Partners.

Kansas Business Person, as co-counsel with Kansas real estate counsel, represent Kansas business person on sale rural cell tower and future leasing rights to SBA Communications.

Flint, Michigan Business, with in-house counsel, represent Flint area business on sale of cell tower lease, future leasing rights and expansion area to Crown Castle.

Miami Real Estate Developers, as co-counsel with local real estate counsel, assist Miami real estate developers on sale of two cell tower leases and future leasing right to Crown Castle.

North Carolina Trusts, as co-counsel with North Carolina real estate counsel and trusts counsel, represent several trusts on $650,000 sale of large cell tower in North Carolina to American Tower.

Large Michigan School District, assist large Michigan school district and its in-house counsel and staff on developing request for proposals, bid process and successful sale to Crown Castle for $6.8 million of approximately 25 existing and pending cell leases, including leases on smokestacks, light standards and stand-alone towers.

North Carolina Rooftop Cell Antenna Sale, as co-counsel with North Carolina real estate counsel, represent regional real estate company on $2 million sale to American Tower of four rooftop antenna leases and leasing rights on ten story office building without appreciably diminishing building's sale price.

New Jersey Cell Tower Sale, as co-counsel assist local counsel in New Jersey on real estate investors' sale of cell tower lease to Crown Castle.

Florida Cell Tower Sale Evaluation, as co-counsel with Florida counsel assist Florida retail company/shopping center on evaluating cell tower purchase and lease extension offers from Crown Castle and American Tower for two cell towers located on company property.

Rhode Island Cell Tower Sale Evaluation, as co-counsel with Rhode Island counsel assist Rhode Island business on lease extension and evaluation of offer to purchase T-Mobile/Crown Castle cell tower lease on premises of the business.

New York Township Cell Tower Sale Evaluation, as co-counsel with Township Attorney assist New York Township on general guidance and evaluation of lease extension with Crown Castle and multiple buyout offers for cell tower on Township property.

Texas Cell Tower Sale Evaluation, as co-counsel, assist Texas commercial real estate agent and local counsel on evaluation of sale of AT&T Wireless cell tower lease on family property.

Michigan Manufacturing Business,represent Michigan manufacturer on sale to American Tower of cell tower lease for property adjacent to manufacturing plant.

Commercial Real Estate Investor, represent Michigan commercial real estate investor on sale to SBA Communications of cell tower lease and leasing rights on property owned by investor. 

Leadership

Honors & Recognitions

Martindale-Hubbell® Distinguished™ Peer Review Rated

Michigan Municipal League, Special Award of Merit, 2006

National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA): Member of the Year Award, 1996; Ovation Award, 1995, 1997

Professional Affiliations

American Public Power Association, Legal Section, past chair

Federal Communications Bar Association

Grand Rapids Bar Association

International Municipal Lawyers Association: Technology and Franchise Section, chair, 2007 - 2009; Municipal Contracts, vice chair, 2004 - 2006; Legislative Advocacy Committee, ad hoc member, 2004 - 2006

Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys, Professionalism and Education Committee, 2005 - 2007

State Bar of Arizona

State Bar of Michigan, Government Law Section, past chair

Community Involvement

Beach Comber Condominium Association, secretary-treasurer

Harvard Glee Club Foundation, past trustee

Hilltop House, past Board member

Madera Reserve Homeowners Association, vice president

The Good Shepherd UCC Church, past Finance chair

News & Publications

Presentations

Numerous webinars and seminars on cell towers, 1996 - 2018

Publications

Education

Harvard College
Cambridge, Massachusetts
B.A., magna cum laude, 1970

Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut
M.A., magna cum laude, 1972

University of Michigan Law School
Ann Arbor, Michigan
J.D., magna cum laude, 1975

Bar Admissions

  • Arizona
  • Michigan

Court Admissions

  • All Michigan state courts
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • United States Supreme Court
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