NYC Tenants Fight Against Rooftop Cell Phone Tower

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A battle is under way on the Upper East Side between residents of a condo building and cellular giant T-Mobile.

It’s a case of “antenna anxiety,” reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.

Residents on the rooftop of an Upper East Side building looked on with glee as a crane down on the street drew in its tentacles and left.

“It’s just a sweet site to watch,” one resident said.

The standoff began at around 8:30 Sunday morning when the crane was positioned on East 81st Street.

The crane’s objective was to begin installing rooftop cellular antennas, but two dozen residents of the 164-unit building, called Salem House, took up positions on the roof to prevent it.

“The plan is to stay here – to stay here all day,” resident Pat Phillips said.

Opponents to the plan said they not only fear radiation and the spoiling of their rooftop garden, but said the 30-year plan with T-Mobile was devised behind closed doors by the condo board members only.

“They never let anybody in the building know this deal had come to the table,” Phillips said.

The president of the board, Regina Ford, declined comment to CBS 2.

Jane Builder, a spokeswoman for T-Mobile, released the following statement: “We’ve worked with the resident-elected board of directors at the Salem House for more than a year to bring a new site on-air that blends in with the surrounding area and delivers the biggest service improvement for local families.”

With the police trying to mediate the situation, the crane was taken down.

The tenants have won the latest skirmish with T-Mobile, but it appears that battle will continue in court.

More from John Slattery
  • Milos Weston

    This January 2010 I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. It was about a year after the cell phone tower was placed on my roof.

    Today they moved one of the transmitters right outside of my window so when I am near that wall I am about 1 foot away from it. This is not on the roof anymore but one the side of the building.

    I am in a rent stabilized building and I cannot afford to move. I am very worried about my health and I don’t know who to call for advice.

    • danora

      You should probably start by contacting your City Councilman. Hopefull, he/she is supporting the cell phone antenna legislation so that this can never happen again to anyone.

  • 7gphone

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  • maggielizzie

    As least as a coop they can fight it. As renters they would have no voice. Hence, the installation of two substations and 18 antennas on the roof of our rent stabilized building. Even though DOB initially said the weight was too dangerous, when we took the landlord to court, the city protected DOB and the judge said, go to trial, those cellphone towers are not coming down.” We don’t have enough money to take the fight to the federal level and question the emissions level.
    The telecommunication companies made a deal in 1996 with the FCB. Cell phone towers can not be refused or removed on the basis of health risks. Consequently, the actual emissions are often way over the limit. It’ll take a class agent suit much like what happened with the tobacco industry, forcing these companies to lay bare the truth about what these emissions are really doing to all of us and to our planet.

  • danora

    Somebody needs to help coop and condo owners with this situation. It’s outrageous! Boards should not be allowed to decide to put these monstrosities on the roof without shareholder approval.

    Where are all the politicians?

    Are they working for T-Mobile or are they working for us?

  • Jason Sharke

    ““It’s just a sweet site to watch,” one resident said.”

    I’m shocked at just how low journalistic standards have become. It is now perfectly possible for semi-literate people to earn a career in journalism. They’re not even proof reading their own articles any more. The sad thing is that kids read this junk and figure that spelling mistakes and incorrect grammar are no big deal.

  • Dean

    These are probably the same people who complain they get no service on their T-Mobile phones.

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