City of Lawrence issues cease and desist order for all AT&T projects, cites ‘continuous reckless, illegal, and discourteous behavior’

photo by: AP File

AT&T Communications corporate offices in San Antonio.

The City of Lawrence has issued a cease and desist order to AT&T and its subcontractors for all active projects in the city because of numerous complaints and what the city describes as reckless behavior.

In a news release Thursday, the city states that all right-of-way permits applied for by AT&T and its contractors will be denied until further notice. The release states that the city has received numerous complaints from residents and the other utilities operating in city right-of-way areas regarding the behavior of AT&T and its contractors.

In the cease and desist order, the city states that the city has received complaints from residents and other public utility companies on “numerous occasions” regarding AT&T’s “continuous reckless, illegal, and discourteous behavior within the City.” The order states the main problem is AT&T and its contractors working in the right of way without having properly performed utility location.

“In addition to that being in direct violation of State of Kansas Law, working without proper locates being performed has caused a number of citizens of the City to be without service and have caused … other Utility companies to perform emergency work to correct issues created by AT&T and its contractors,” the order states.

The city is issuing the cease and desist order to be proactive in protecting the safety and functional infrastructure of the community, according to the news release. There have been multiple instances of AT&T and its contractors hitting other public utilities’ and competitors’ facilities because utility location was not performed in advance. Kansas law requires utility location to be performed in advance of work in public rights of way and utility easements. Locating utility lines helps protect the community against service disruptions and risks to safety, including electrocution and gas leaks.

The release states that the city has previously communicated to AT&T regarding this issue, with no correction being made.

AT&T spokesman Mark Giga said in a statement to the Journal-World that the company was in contact with the city about the issue.

“We take utility locating procedures and construction safety very seriously,” Giga said. “We are in contact with the City of Lawrence to resolve this.”


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