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Village To Limit Cell Towers

Elected officials in the Village of Farmingdale are looking to pass legislation that will restrict cellphone providers such as AT&T and Verizon from putting any antenna, beacon or tower on private property.

“The village relies on the cellphone tower revenue,” said Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. “These rich cellphone providers can easily pay the fees.”  

According to Ekstrand, the village makes approximately $200,000 in non-taxpayer revenue from the cellphone service providers’ use of its facilities. He said that every once in a while, service providers attempt to renegotiate contracts with threats of relocating wireless telecommunication facilities from atop municipally-owned water towers onto private property.  

“If [service providers] want to play hardball,” Ekstrand said. “We’re going to make it so you can’t put [cell towers] up on a private building.”

Village attorney Claudio Debellis said that the proposed legislation includes several requirements that any cellphone service provider is mandated to adhere to in order to erect a cell tower within the village borders.

“It makes [service providers] look to other places without 20-page ordinances,” Debellis remarked. “There are hefty fees and penalties if they don’t comply.”

According to the proposed law, any person who attempts to erect or modify a wireless telecommunication facility without the necessary permits or permissions shall be punished by a fine up to $5,000 or imprisonment of up to 30 days or both.

Trustees say the bill needs some minor tweaks before it's ready for presentation, but the board anticipates voting on the proposal at the next meeting, scheduled for after press time, on June 2.