LI, Westchester Residents Concerned About Plans For New Cellphone Poles

RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Towering poles topped with cellphone booster equipment are now lining the streets of some Westchester County and Long Island neighborhoods – and some are calling them an eyesore.

But as CBS2’s Lou Young reported, even more of the poles are expected to be installed.

The new cellphone equipment is invading Rye. Some towers already have been attached onto and above existing utility poles, and dozens in total are proposed in Rye alone.

Opponents fear it is just the start.

“The 64 coming in would be Verizon nodes, but other carriers and infrastructure builders can come in and do exactly the same thing,” said Joshua Cohn of Rye.

The mayor said the fact is that upgrades for cellphone networks are necessary.

“We all have (cellphones). We all use them,” said Rye Mayor Joe Sack. “And as a result, the wireless providers have to upgrade their network.”

But while there are only 10 of the new units in Rye now, the sudden expansion proposal has stiffened opposition. Neighbors say they are not only big, but in the summer, internal cooling fans make them noisy as well.

“Walking the dog, I can hear it. It’s like a low whirring sound,” said Madeline Peron of Rye.

Other communities are already reacting to the arrival of cellphone equipment. In Huntington, Long Island, 166 poles were recently approved and went up – much to the shock of those living nearby.

Jodi Abraham awoke this week to a new pole with a booster box and converters pointed right at her Huntington home.

“This is new technology, we’re not sure, like most people we don’t know the health effects of it,” she told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Her husband Peter wants nothing to do with the new installations.

“I don’t want it on my property,” he said. “And I don’t want it adjacent to my property and my children.”

The Abrahams and their neighbors claim no one with Town of Huntington alerted the community that it was entering an agreement with a giant telecommunications company.

Peter demands to know how permits were passed and why residents weren’t previously told about it.

A public hearing called Crown Castle Presentation was held in July. As CBS2’s McLogan reported, few in the community knew it was a company seeking to rent space on the poles to multiple cellphone providers.

The township claims they have limited authority, and the antennas pass government health and safety testing.

Huntington town spokesman A.J. Carter tells CBS2 that Crown Castle told the town that the equipment is designed to fill in gaps in cell phone service.

He claims the initiative is not a money making venture for the town.

CBS2 reports that Huntington stands to make about $230,000 in permit fees, along with 5 percent of future monthly gross revenue for 10 years for equipment placed in right-of-ways.

“It feels like the town can do whatever it wants,” said Jodi.

Back in Rye, opponents are petitioning their city council to keep the cell equipment on public property and out of residential neighborhoods.

Mayor Sack insists the equipment is safe despite the lack of aesthetic appeal.

“Telephone poles are not pretty objects, OK?” he said. “And when you put one of these antennas on top of one, they kind of blend in, you know, with the preexisting ugliness.”

Texas-based Crown Castle is trying to secure the utility pole leases for Westchester and Long Island, as well as for New York City.

Multiple calls to the telecom company have not been returned.

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