By Claire Walla
Last Thursday, August 25, the Southampton Town Planning Board heard a presentation from representatives of Verizon Wireless, LLC on behalf of homeowner Myron Levine. The Noyac resident has expressed interest in replacing the cell tower that current rests near his hilltop home with a less imposing structure.
As proposed, Verizon Wireless would fund the deconstruction of the current tower, which sits atop the hill at the foot of Brick Kiln Road, and would put-up what’s known as a monopole, a less obtrusive structure with the capacity to accommodate more than one wireless carrier.
“The thought is to take down the old albatross,” said Allen Amato who presented the plan for Verizon Wireless in reference to the 203-foot-tall wiry structure, which looks like a giant letter ‘H,’ or a very rigid pi symbol.
With other carriers like AT&T already looking to expand coverage in the area, Amato said it makes sense to swap the old model — which was constructed in the 1940s — for the newer version.
The plan has been ushered into motion by Levine who, in 2008, bought the property next to his house on Brick Kiln Road that contains the current cell tower. He reached out to Verizon Wireless — which is currently the only wireless carrier using the tower’s signal — to get the ball rolling on the construction of a less obtrusive tower.
Verizon’s presentation focused largely on a visual study conducted by Creative Visuals, Inc. The company took pictures of the location of the proposed cell tower from 15 different vantage points in Sag Harbor, including spots very close to the site in Noyac, as well as from 12,000 feet away on the Jordan Haerter Memorial Bridge, which connects Sag Harbor Village to North Haven.
“That is a good example of how the view would significantly improve with the removal of the existing structure,” Amato explained, referencing the images taken from the bridge. The structures themselves will have a difference of about 13 feet above sea level, as the new monopole is predicted to rise about 190-feet high.
The images showed areas in the village where the current tower is visible, but the new tower would be completely hidden from view, like the intersection of Brick Kiln and Stony Hill Roads. In other spots, like Long Beach and The Bridge Golf Course, the tower would still be visible, but it would be less obvious than the current structure.
The other benefit to the monopole, Amato continued, is that all wires would be contained within the structure. In other words, it wouldn’t require additional branches of antennae to be affixed to the outer pole in order for AT&T to join the network. In fact, Amato said the monopole would actually be able to accommodate up to six different carriers.
“Our office has been involved with several hundred applications” for monopoles, Amato explained. He continued that the single-pole structure has been manufactured since the early ‘80s, and since at least the mid-‘90s Verizon Wireless “has only been putting up monopoles.”
Planning board member Phil Keith raised questions having to do with the structure’s safety and stability. “If, God forbid, there’s a catastrophe, how does it collapse… into pieces?” he asked.
Amato said the structure is designed to collapse efficiently. The bottom half of the pole is stronger than the top half, and the middle of the structure has what he referred to as a “crumple zone.”
“So, in a complete catastrophe, it would fold onto itself,” he continued. “This would meet all state and federal standards.”
Having entertained monopole applications in the past — though none having to do with replacing existing towers, but rather with the construction of new towers — Keith said he had done some research on the single-pole structures. Joplin, Missouri “lost 11 out of 17 poles,” he said, referring to when twisters touched down in the town in May.
“They were monopoles,” noted Keith.
Amato stated, however, that his office has been involved with several hundred applications for monopoles, and “To my knowledge there’s a zero failure rate.”
The Southampton Planning Board is scheduled to make a decision regarding this pre-submission conference at a meeting Thursday, October 6.