By Claire Walla
The North Haven Village Board will consider adopting a new law next Tuesday, April 5 that would lay the groundwork for a cell phone tower to rise up in the heavily wooded village.
The proposal for a cell tower was first brought before the village board at its meeting on January 4, when board members heard a presentation from representatives of Suffolk Wireless, the company that aims to build and maintain the proposed structure.
The law, drafted by Village Attorney Anthony Tohill, would only apply to cell phone or radio towers over 32 feet, structures that would be expected to comply with village code as it pertains to accessory structures. The law would require all proposed cell phone or radio towers be set back a distance equal to at least 100 percent of the height of the tower from any adjoining lot line and include security fencing no less than eight feet high (though the board may waive such requirements when it deems appropriate).
What’s more, any proposed tower will need to be as discreet as possible. In addition to maintaining either a galvanized steel finish or being painted a neutral color to blend into the surrounding area, there is also a requirement that tower facilities be “landscaped with a buffer of plant materials that effectively screens the view of the tower compound from property used for residences.”
In order to ensure the village board that its structure will be as camouflaged as possible, Suffolk Wireless provided North Haven Village with a comprehensive pack of 14 photographs illustrating how the pole would be see from different vantage points. From seven angles, the pole is not visible at all, and from most others there is only partial visibility.
According to Village Clerk Georgia Welch, the idea to erect a cell tower in the village grew from conversations initiated by Suffolk Wireless. However, as radio frequency engineer Mike Littman explained to the board during last January’s presentation, the closest cell phone towers to the peninsula are located in Southampton Village, on Middle Line Highway in Sag Harbor and across the water on Shelter Island.
“The coverage doesn’t reach North Haven from the south and it doesn’t reach it from the north from Shelter Island,” he said. “Locating a site here would be a win-win.”
Plus, the village can expect to see a financial gain.
In exchange for allowing the company to install a tower on village property, Suffolk Wireless will pay the village a base installation fee of $100,000. Additionally, the village would receive 50 percent of all profits generated. According to village attorney Anthony Tohill, yearly earnings estimates for the village would total about $90,000 if the pole served five wireless carriers. With seven wireless carriers, the village could expect to receive $126,000 in annual profits.
The proposed cell phone tower is known as a mono-pole because all antennae would be situated inside the structure. It would be about 140 feet high and would rest about 140 feet back from Ferry Road, just north of village hall. In addition, the pole would be flanked by equipment boxes — up to three for each of the seven cell phone carriers that would be using the tower — and all equipment would be gated by a 75-foot barrier rising between six and 10 feet high (Suffolk Wireless recommends a height of eight feet).
While the village has yet to file an application for such a structure, adopting the local zoning code to permit wireless communications towers and antennas would be the first step toward moving forward with these plans.
The North Haven Village Board public hearing to consider adoption of the local law will take place at 5 p.m.