Tag Archive | "cell tower"

Incumbents Run Unopposed in North Haven

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By Claire Walla

This Tuesday, North Haven Village will see an uncontested election, with trustees George Butts and Diane Skilbred, as well as Mayor Laura Nolan all up for reelection.

Nolan, who will be running for her sixth term in office, includes in her list of achievements: financial stewardship (maintaining the same tax rate for the last five years); land preservation (preserving 26 acres of open space); village management (upgrading to a digital filing system); and traffic-calming measures supported by the roundabout where Ferry Road meets County Road 60.

Nolan added the most important issues facing the village in the coming years will include the effects of the two-percent tax cap, as well as “the continued pressures of development” and “preserving the beauty of our coastal waters.”

After moving to North Haven in the early ‘90s, Nolan first ran for village board in 1997.

“I originally got involved because of the deer issue,” Nolan said.

Back then, Nolan said the deer population in North Haven alone registered over 500. Together with her fellow village board members, Nolan said she helped put measures in place to reduce the deer population.

“We have safely reduced the deer herd,” she wrote in an email, “and continue to maintain a very small deer population.”

After having served on the North Haven Village Board since 2010, Trustee Diane Skilbred will be running for her second term in office.

Of the issues the village board has faced in the time she’s been in office, she said the most significant have been the law allowing residents to raise chickens and the cell phone tower first proposed in December of 2010.

“I was the only one who was opposed to it,” she said of the tower. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for North Haven.” (The cell tower proposal was ultimately shot down.)

Much of Skilbred’s decision making has revolved around the idea of maintaining the “rural character” of the village, which is why she said she strongly supported the chicken law, which was ultimately adopted by the board.

While relatively new to the village board, Skilbred was previously a member of the Architectural Review Board (ARB), which she served on for 16 years.

The main initiative Skilbred said she will try to spearhead during her next term in office is installing solar panels on the roof of Village Hall.

After four years as a North Haven Village Trustee, George Butts will be running for his third term in office.

Butts was born and raised in Sag Harbor and moved to North Haven in the ‘80s. A member of the Volunteer Fire Department and the Sag Harbor Dive Team, Butts had been Chairman of the North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals for 18 years before joining the village board.

Like Skilbred, of the most important issues the board has faced in the last four years Butts named the newly adopted chicken law and the debate over the proposed cell phone tower. But, in general, Butts said the village has remained relatively uncontroversial.

“It’s a good thing what we’re doing,” he said, explaining that the board works as a unit, for the most part, and largely avoids much bickering when it comes to deciding issues.

“I hope we’ll continue to take care of everything and make [the village] run as smoothly as it has been running,” he said.

“We’re an unusual board,” Mayor Nolan added.  “We work as a team.”

The North Haven Village election will take place this Tuesday, June 19 at Village Hall.

Bid to Replace Guy-Wire with Monopole Moves Ahead in Noyac

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By Claire Walla

Plans to replace a 203-foot guy-wire tower that stretches up out of the hills of Noyac with a 190-foot monopole have slid through the Southampton Town Planning Board without a hitch. Last Thursday, March 8 the public hearing on the application (by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, LLC) was officially closed.

After a 10-day comment period, the planning board will reconvene to discuss the written report submitted by town planner Claire Vail.

“The guy-wire pole was much larger and less attractive,” said planning board member Jacqui Lofaro.

The board has 60 days in which to make a decision. The application is tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the board at its April 26 meeting.

The property in question belongs to Noyac resident Myron Levine, whose house sits on an adjoining piece of property just off Middle Lane Highway. According to Levine, the cell-tower swap is a win-win for all parties: it replaces a large wiry tower with a less-imposing pole, and the new structure will allow for more wireless carriers to put antennae in the area.

“AT&T has already decided to come onto this tower, so one benefit already is that you’ll have Verizon and AT&T,” he said. Currently, the tower only carries signals for Verizon.

Levine said that after the board makes its decision in April, he’ll have to file for a building permit for the new monopole and then construction can begin. Vail confirmed the whole replacement process should take about two months to complete.

“Everyone anticipates that probably by the end of the summer the tower will be up and the other will be down,” Levine continued.

The current structure — in the shape of a capitol ‘H’ with a cross bar on top — was erected sometime in the 1940s as a radio tower. AT&T eventually acquired the structure, which now only sends cell-phone signals. But, it wasn’t until Levine actually purchased the property in 2008 that the plan to replace the old model with a newer monopole was enacted.

According to a presentation on the project from Verizon Wireless, LLC the monopole will hold all of its antennae internally. So, in addition to being far shorter than the current structure, it will never have to branch out vertically to accommodate more carriers. The pole would have room for up to six different carriers at one time.

As part of Verizon’s presentation on the proposed monopole, the company worked with Creative Visuals, Inc. to produce computer generated imaging that shows the visual impacts of a monopole as opposed to the current structure.

The company took pictures from 16 different vantage points, including stretches of Noyac Road, Long Beach and the Jordan Haerter Memorial Bridge. The company concluded that — when swapping the guy-wire tower for the monopole — the proposed monopole improved the Noyac vista.

Can You Hear Me Now, Bridgehampton?

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By Claire Walla

According to Lawrence Ré, an attorney for AT&T, the company has searched high and low in Bridgehampton for an existing site at which to place a new cell tower.

“We’ve been looking since 2008,” he said. “We thought the best spot would be the fire house, and repeated attempts were made to see if we could lease space on the tower there.”

“Attempts were also made to go into church steeples,” he continued. However, he said those efforts proved fruitless.

Now, AT&T is eying a 16,213-square-foot parcel off Foster Road (near the train tracks and Butter Lane) to place a new cell phone tower. The structure would be a monopole, meaning all antennae would exist in the interior of the pole, but — without an existing structure to attach itself to — the proposed 120-foot tower would sit in an open lot within the hamlet’s business district.

Ré went on to explain at a Southampton Town Planning Board meeting last Thursday, January 26 that AT&T’s service gap fades west of Butter Lane and one mile to the east of the proposed cell tower property on Foster Avenue.

Cell phone towers “really have to be [placed] every mile, to a mile-and-a-half,” he continued. “Your phone is only eight-tenths of a watt, that’s really low power.”

(AT&T is also proposing to place a 120-foot tall monopole on a 71,000-square-foot parcel on Seabreeze Avenue in Westhampton.)

While Ré explained that the tower could be reduced to a height of 90 feet, AT&T has proposed making the pole 120 feet in order to give it the capacity to take-on other wireless carriers, like Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile. He also added that 120 feel is well within the threshold of 200 feet required for a cell tower to be built near the East Hampton Airport.

However, according to town planner Claire Vail, the proposed height does not currently meet the “fall zone” requirements mandated by town code. But, she added that the town does prefer industrial zones to residential areas for such structures. So, the Southampton Town Planning Board would be able to issue a variance for the structure, if it chose to go ahead with the project.

Board member Jacqui Lofaro asked whether AT&T had considered installing a Distributed Antennae System (DAS) instead of a monopole. (DAS is a way of transporting wireless signals through a collection of small, black boxes that are evenly distributed throughout a community. DAS also operates at a lower frequency.)

However, Ré said people tend to object to DAS. Signals only penetrate 30 or 40 feet from the DAS antenna. And while this system may work in heavily concentrated areas like Manhattan, Ré said, “If a house is set-back 100 feet from the road, it would still get marginal service.”

While Ré acknowledged that the site AT&T is now eyeing for the monopole is not ideal, he said it’s relatively far from residences.

“That’s why we ended up here, it’s an industrial area,” he continued. “We’re trying to remain away from as many houses as we can.”

Though the Hayground School is also in proximity to the site, Ré noted that it’s roughly 1,300 feet away.

“On Long Island, no matter where we pick, there’s always something 1,300 feet away!” he joked. “Again, this wasn’t our first choice, but it really seems like we’ve run into a dead end.”

In other news…

The Southampton Town Planning Board passed a resolution to commence a SEQRA report for the demolition of an existing 203-foot cell tower on a property in Noyac. The decades-old tower — currently a structure made of two large metal beams connected by two large crossbars — would be replaced by a 190-foot monopole.

New Cell Tower Proposed To Replace Current Noyac Structure

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Shot of Proposed Tower, simulation
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.

North Haven Passes Law to Ban Cell Tower Legislation

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By Claire Walla

Solidifying motions taken last month to repeal the first law passed in the village this year, the North Haven Village Board of Trustees unanimously adopted Local Law Number 3 last Tuesday, July 5. It effectively rescinds Local Law Number 1, which created a section in village code to allow for a wireless communication tower to be built on village property.
(Trustee Jim Smyth was absent.)
“I’m sure everyone’s up to speed on this,” Mayor Laura Nolan said light-heartedly. “It was shown with great interest last month.”
At the last village board meeting June 7, nearly 40 residents filled all available seating inside village hall to oppose the original law, passed in May. The issue stems from the prospect of placing a cell tower — in this case a mono-pole — on village property. The village board began discussing the issue of cell phone reception — or rather lack of it — in earnest in January after watching a presentation by Suffolk Wireless, LLC, the proposed builder of such a pole.
But many residents came forward with strong objections to the idea of a cell-phone tower, citing health concerns and issues of village aesthetics. Ultimately, community backlash prompted the trustees to rescind the law — though no formal plans to build the tower were ever presented.
This week’s meeting was less well attended, with only one local resident speaking about the issue during public comment session.
In addition to the public hearing on this law — to rescind cell tower legislation — Mayor Nolan also introduced a second public hearing for a law to enact a moratorium on cell tower applications in the village.
“Essentially, the moratorium gives us the power to deny applications,” Nolan said.
The moratorium would last six months from when the law is signed into legislation by the state, which according to Village Clerk Georgia Welch, will be about 10 days from now.
“The boiler plate issue is that this will give us breathing room to entertain other options,” Welch explained. In other words, the moratorium will suspend any applications for cell towers or other wireless technology that may otherwise be brought to the village in the next six months. Without specific applications to attend to and consider, the village board will be free to look into other options and newer technologies.

In other news…

Village Clerk Georgia Welch noted she had received a letter of correspondence from North Haven resident April Gornik, who requested the village’s permission to post two signs urging drivers to slow-down for turtles crossing.
Gornik suggested placing one of the signs — both of which she purchased herself — on an existing pole across from her home on Fresh Pond Road.
The village noted complications with posting anything on a LIPA or Verizon pole, which are privately owned, but expressed an overall enthusiasm for the idea.
“I’d like to see us preserve these creatures,” Gornik wrote, explaining that the eastern box turtle is now extinct in Nassau County.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Trustee Dianne Skilbred. “I think we should do it.”

After nearly two years of ongoing negotiations, village trustees have come to a general consensus on the location of a dock proposed by the Lathem family to be built on their property. Separate plans to move the dock to the north of the property and then to the south of the property generated complaints from the Lathem’s neighbors on both ends. So, trustees ultimately agreed to the original plan, which will see a dock built closer to the middle of the Lathem’s property.
At issue now is lighting, a topic raised by North Haven resident Bob Falborn, who wondered whether the lights designed for the dock would be as bright as those now lighting-up Jimmy Buffett’s North Haven dock.
Contractor John Costello explained that the low-projection lighting now planned for the Lathem’s dock would, in fact, illuminate the deck at all hours of the night.
Village trustees said they were opposed to that plan, and suggested minimal, low-projection lights that would function with an on/off switch.

Cell Tower Discussion Divides Community

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By Claire Walla

The possibility of a cell phone tower being constructed in the middle of North Haven has thrown many residents into a tizzy.

Trustee Jeff Sander said the issue was pursued late last year to address the village’s spotty cell phone reception, which Sander explained “has been a common complaint for many years.”

Plus, he said the village would be able to profit from a tower, which would potentially reduce village taxes by about 10 percent.

“Those are the two motivating factors to see whether this makes any sense at all,” Sander explained in an interview along with his fellow trustee Jim Smythe. “It’s not for me and Jim, it’s for the citizens of North Haven.”

Though not everyone appreciates the favor.

“It just goes against everything North Haven stands for,” said resident Susan Lamontagne.

She is one of several community members spearheading an effort to oppose any hint of a cell phone tower in North Haven — a group that includes her husband, Lawrence LaRose, who is running for a position on the North Haven Village Board based largely on his opposition to the wireless structure.

“I’m not against trying to improve people’s cell phone service,” Lamontagne continued. “But what I don’t understand is why the board didn’t look at other options.”

At a village board meeting at the beginning of this year, town trustees heard from officials on behalf of a company calling itself Suffolk Wireless, LLC, which was asked by North Haven Village Mayor Laura Nolan to present a comprehensive plan for a 140-foot tall monopole to be placed on village property.

According to the presentation, the proposed structure — which could carry signals for up to seven service providers — would be painted a tan color on bottom and pale blue above the tree line to blend in with the natural surroundings as best as possible.

The proposal was discussed among village trustees, most of whom looked favorably upon the plan, though Suffolk Wireless, LLC has yet to actually submit an application to the village. Last month, however, the village passed a local law laying out the ground rules for potentially implementing wireless devices in the village. Trustee Diane Skilbred, who would have a view of the proposed tower from her home, was the only board member to oppose the law.

Though the village ran legal announcements in The Sag Harbor Express giving public notice prior to board meetings in which cell phone tower issues were to be addressed, some residents are upset that they hadn’t heard about the issue until after the board voted the legislation into law.

“I don’t think the actions taken to date are the ones that necessarily require a bull horn [to announce it to the public],” Sander continued. “We haven’t even discussed a site application. There isn’t even any plan or proposal to construct a tower.”

Sander and Smythe said that the Suffolk Wireless, LLC presentation at the beginning of the year is not a plan that has been submitted to the board for approval.

Plus, Smythe clarified that the board “wouldn’t even be able to entertain the good, the bad, or any other wireless options” without the local law being added to the village code book.

Initially worried about the potential health risks associated with the proposed structure, Lamontagne first addressed the issue by bringing it to the community. After talking to neighbors near her home on West Drive, Lamontagne found that many North Haven residents were concerned about the notion of putting a cell tower in the village — and many didn’t know about it. Most notably, residents worried about aesthetics and property values.

“The number one thing that we hear is that a 140-foot tower does not belong in North Haven,” she said, adding that this height is just 12 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.

This is of particular concern to Brian Ehrlich, who said his home on Stock Farm Lane would look directly onto the tower proposed by Suffolk Wireless, LLC.

“In my case, I’ve got a beautiful view of the creek and the wetlands — without humanity,” Ehrlich said. He noted that he’s also currently in the process of undergoing a $1 million renovation on the back deck of his home to enhance this view.

Ehrlich said he met with mayor Nolan last week to express his concerns, and learned that the proposed tax break from the tower would save him about $80 a year on his village tax bill.

In other words, he continued, “for a savings of $80 a year, I get to see a cell tower.”

“It just doesn’t add up economically,” he continued. “I appreciate the fact that [Mayor Nolan] is trying to save money for the village, but saving 10 percent of a $1 million operating budget doesn’t make sense” for a relatively wealthy village, he said.

Though Sander confirmed that village taxes haven’t rising in the last five years, he and Smythe expressed concern that finances might not stay so level in the future, given the shaky economy.

Overall, Sander emphasized that the village is not yet poised to make any decisions regarding the implementation of a cell tower.

In fact, he added, the board has begun to look at other options in an attempt to address the issue of poor cell service.

“We’re still looking at the Distributed Antenna System [DAS],” Sander said of the system proposed in an editorial last week written by LaRose. DAS claims to distribute cell signals more evenly via nodes placed on top of existing telephone poles, which decreases the amount of radiation sent out, versus what a cell tower would emit. “That’s the one alternative [to a tower] that looks most promising.”

“There might be a superior solution for everyone … I don’t know yet,” he continued. “We’ve had a presentation from [Suffolk Wireless], but we’re looking at alternatives. There will be opportunities for the public to participate, because the public has raised concerned. And maybe we have to do much more than just a notice in the paper. But, once we have public debate, and the benefit of public input, we as a board will figure out what we decide to do.”