WANTAGH, N.Y. (CBS 2) — There’s towering trouble for hundreds of people on Long Island, as residents are fighting the wireless industry and lawmakers.
They want a hold on the building of cell towers and transmitters in their neighborhood.
Many, like Wantagh homeowner Pamela Dempsey, are fired up.
“What’s going on in this neighborhood is outrageous,” she said.
She’s referring to the news that cell phone giant T-Mobile has its eyes on a Wantagh synagogue across the street from her house as an ideal spot to install and pay rent on six new cell phone transmitters.
“They want to put…a big smokestack-like chimney that’s going to look like a prison tower,” Dempsey said. “We are stuck…there is no need for anything to be put right here on the temple.”
She and her neighbors worry about spoiling aesthetics and plunging home values as physically intrusive wireless infrastructures take over the landscape.
Long Island is now home to 7,100 cell towers and transmitters – with more on the way.
Many of the residents living in Hempstead’s 22 villages complained to the Town Board, and in an unprecedented vote, it agreed to put “on hold” any more wireless construction – and bring in experts to help citizens and lawmakers learn their rights.
“This is within the context of federal law,” said Kate Murray, Supervisor for the town of Hempstead. “We only have a certain amount of leeway as a local government. However, we’re taking every step we can to enact protections for our residents.”
For instance, health concerns are not valid grounds to deny applications, because federal studies have found no ill-health from those who live nearby.
T-Mobile has responded with a statement.
“We believe the town of Hempstead is best served by the peace of mind that comes with great wireless coverage…that improves access to emergency services for personal and public safety purposes,” the company said.
Wireless companies say cell phone users can’t demand greater access and not be willing to pay for it – in the form of towers and antennas.