Those Looming Mini Towers

DSC 0290The City Council room was filled Wednesday night with demonstrably concerned residents, unsettled by the application by Crown Castle to install 64 mini cell towers in residential areas throughout the City.


By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott

 

DSC 0290The City Council room was filled Wednesday night with demonstrably concerned residents, unsettled by the application by Crown Castle to install 64 mini cell towers in residential areas throughout the City.

 

At the public hearing, which went on past midnight, residents expressed disappointment with the process, especially the fact that residents living within close proximity to the proposed towers weren’t even notified of the proposal and the locations.

 

In fact, the majority of residents who came to the podium informed the Council that they had only heard about the plan the day a day or two earlier. One resident called the lack of communication “appalling.”

 

On behalf of 15 households on Bird Lane and Forest Cove, Bjorn Tuypens called into question the need for more poles and the safety hazard they present for children walking to Milton School and drivers trying to turn onto Forest Avenue.

 

Two members of the Breinin family, who live on Locust Avenue, introduced other negative impacts. “Cell towers are known to have adverse effect on property values,” noted Alex, who calculates that 280 Rye homes will lose 10% of their value if these towers are erected as planned. “We should put our needs above those of multi-national companies,” he said. He exhorted the Council not to approve the application without first notifying all residents within 750 feet of the proposed towers. His father Bart addressed what he considers the relevant City laws [City Code Section 196]. “Rye, for twenty years, has had a wireless law on its books which covers what is proposed. Has the City required Crown Castle to comply? By law, the applicant must submit a report signed by a licensed engineer showing how the equipment will be screened. Has this been satisfied? Are the required setbacks being complied with?” And finally, “What happens when other wireless companies want to do the same thing? All should be addressed before the Council goes ahead.” 

 

Many residents pointed out that locating the poles outside residential areas is meant to be a high priority, according to our regulations, and asked what hardship the applicant could present that would necessitate their locating their equipment in residential neighborhoods, which is, by statute, a last resort.

 

Oakland Beach Avenue resident Julianne O’Brien described her home as being in “the Bermuda Triangle” – with two cell towers already nearby, one a half-block away, and a proposed tower “50 inches, not 50 feet in front. I will constantly be exposed to low frequency emissions if this plan goes through.” She urged the Council to rethink the plan in a manageable manner and conduct an independent study on data submitted by Crown Castle.

 

Green Avenue resident Josh Cohn faulted the City for failure to follow the City Code and allow this application to go forward through the Streets and Sidewalks law. “The municipality must go to the specific law over the general. This proposal requires a special use application and notice procedures. Rye must follow our own law.” And he noted that, “few people want to cuddle up near a cell tower.”

 

Pity the resident who told the Council that he owns two homes in Rye and cell towers are proposed in front of both of them.

 

Indian Village resident Delano Ladd turned to the Castle Crown representatives at the Council meeting and said, “You’re in for a helluva fight if you think you’re going to put a cell tower in front of my house, one of four on a quiet street.”

 

Longtime Fairway Avenue resident Nancy Haneman spoke for many in the room when she said succinctly, “We moved here 34 years ago for the quality of life. I don’t want these cell towers in my neighborhood.”

 

Councilwoman Emily Hurd, who took Crown Castle to task throughout the meeting, noted that only two days before the company came to them with a request for six more towers.

 

Attorney Christopher Fisher of Cuddy & Feder, the law firm representing Crown Castle, made the case that they are permitted, by a 2011 agreement with the City, to use the rights of way, and that they have supplied all the requisite data showing the need for additional coverage to meet increased capacity needs.

 

After noting that the City would likely hire an outside consultant to review the proposal, Mayor Joe Sack continued the public hearing until its August 3 meeting.

 

Caption

Resident Julianne O’Brien addressing the Council