By Annette Hinkle
Can you hear me now?
If AT&T gets its way, that well known phrase will soon be a thing of the past for cell phone users trying to connect in Bridgehampton.
Elite Towers and AT&T are proposing a 120-foot monopole wireless telecommunications facility in a parcel at 61 Foster Avenue in Bridgehampton. The monopole and its associated equipment would be housed on a 16,213 square foot parcel with an existing warehouse storage building and accessory parking.
The Southampton Town Planning Board, the lead agency on the proposal, determined the proposed tower may have a significant adverse impact on the environment, triggering the requirement for the preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
In advance of the preparation of the DEIS and to insure it is a concise and complete document, the public was invited to a scoping session at Southampton Town Hall last Thursday, October 10 to ask questions, raise concerns and narrow the issues related to the proposed monopole.
Cathie Gandel, co chair of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), wanted to know if the applicant was following the town’s guidelines for communication towers.
“Is this tower in compliance with the town’s requirements and the document they have on cell towers?” asked Gandel. “Is this too high?”
“The height is one of the issues,” conceded planning board chair Denis Finnerty.
Though AT&T is the applicant, resident Julie Burmeister wanted to know if the tower would be used for more than one provider.
“We don’t want two or three of these things,” said Burmeister.
Finnerty said he believed the tower would house multiple providers.
“If there were two companies on one cell tower would it look different?” asked resident Jenice Delano.
“No,” responded Finnerty. “Many of these towers you’ve seen are the old technology. This is a stealth tower and all the antennae are enclosed. Nothing is protruding.”
Delano also wanted to know how the new tower relates to the current cell phone tower on Bricklin Road near Sag Harbor. Finnerty explained the two would compliment one another and he noted the Brickiln Road tower would be replaced with the newer technology.
“So do you need another tower then in Bridgehampton because service is not good,” asked Delano.
“The technology suggests these towers are needed in certain pods or nodes, they carry the signal from one pod to the next as you travel,” explained Finnerty. “The town has done extensive mapping of existing coverage and one of the things we’ll look for in the impact statement is gaps in coverage.”
Though the proposed parcel on Foster Avenue, which AT&T will lease for the tower, is in an area zoned light industrial, Gandel was concerned about the view shed.
“I assume you’ve seen these pictures,” she said. “From certain places, it’s quite, quite visible, especially across the Lumber Lane field and on Corwith Lane.”
Janine Brino from the Huntington-based law firm Re, Nielsen, Huber & Coughlin LLP, spoke on behalf of Elite Towers and AT&T and addressed the concerns raised by Gandel, Burmeister and Delano.
“In the DEIS we will address where other towers in the area are,” explained Brino. “As far as alternatives, we did consider other locations, that was submitted with the application and will be examined in the draft EIS.”
“There also will be more than one provider,” continued Brino. “The chairman had it correct. Verizon and T-Mobile will have their antenna inside the pole. It won’t change the appearance of the pole. Each provider needs cabinetry equipment at the base. AT&T’s will be inside the warehouse and hopefully future co-locators would find space inside the warehouse as well.”
Brino also confirmed the tower in Sag Harbor will be replaced. She noted AT&T would be a co-applicant on that structure as well.
“We need both that site and this one,” she explained. “We’ll address how the network is evaluated in the DEIS. As far as locations in engineering, what’s also available from a leasing perspective.”
Once the DEIS has been prepared, the public will have 60 days to examine and comment on the document, which will be available at the offices of the Southampton Town Planning Department.