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Hempstead Gives Residents Voice in Wireless Proposals

Farmingdale Wantagh Jewish Center Cell Tower Could Be Affected

Hempstead Town has given residents a greater voice regarding proposals to place wireless telecommunications equipment such as cell towers and antenna throughout the township. Supervisor Kate Murray announced that the town has retained a nationally renowned wireless communications expert to review applications and provide objective testimony on wireless telecommunication applications that come before the Hempstead Board of Appeals. A key focus of the town’s consultant will be to ensure that newly approved wireless communication equipment will be sited in locations that have the least negative impact on local communities.

“Wireless communication providers have had their experts testify in support of applications to place cellular towers, antenna and other equipment in local communities,” said Murray. “Now, neighbors will have a voice with equal expertise in this highly technical field to look out for their interests. The expert will make sure that the cell companies provide accurate technical information to the zoning board. ”

Among the consultant’s priorities will be ensuring that telecommunications providers meet a very high standard in documenting a need for new towers and antenna. Additionally, Mr. Richard Comi of the Center for Municipal Solutions, Hempstead’s consultant, will work to make certain that new wireless communications equipment will be sited in the least intrusive locations with the minimum possible degree of visual impact. Protection against negative effects on area character and property values will also be a top priority for the town’s consultant. Accordingly, the Center for Municipal Solutions will explore whether applicants have undertaken adequate consideration of alternative wireless equipment locations.

“Working to minimize the impact of wireless communication equipment on our residential communities is very important,” stated Councilwoman Angie Cullin.

”Ensuring that cell companies only resort to proposing new towers when it has been conclusively proven that they are absolutely necessary is critical to minimizing impact. With this new consultant on board, the town is partnering with neighbors to protect the character of our communities and safeguard house values.”

The cost of the telecommunications expert will be shouldered by applicants who come before the Board of Appeals. In fact, there will be no impact on taxpayers associated with the work performed by the Center for Municipal Solutions.

To ensure that the consultant would have adequate time to review pending applications for new wireless communication devices, Hempstead’s Town Attorneys Office successfully sought the adjournment of two cellular antenna cases slated for hearings before the Board of Appeals. As a result, the Center for Municipal Solutions will have reviewed the cases and will be prepared to testify objectively on behalf of town residents at a rescheduled hearing date.

In addition to the services of expert review and testimony on wireless carrier cases, the Center for Municipal Solutions is assisting the town in drafting a new and revised telecommunications ordinance. The proposed ordinance will impose new regulations and requirements upon telecommunication providers and support the consulting, review and testimony that is currently being furnished by the Center for Municipal Solutions. The town anticipates a hearing on the new ordinance to occur next month. Any new applications that may be slated for a Board of Appeals hearing prior to the town board considering its new ordinance will be the subject of an adjournment request by the Town Attorney’s Office.

In an effort to elicit the input of neighbors across the town on the upcoming hearing to implement new cellular wireless regulations, Hempstead officials are inviting written comments.

Residents who wish to make suggestions or offer comments regarding the proposed local legislation are encouraged to make submissions in writing to: Town of Hempstead Cellular Legislation, One Washington Street, Hempstead, NY 11550. Neighbors may also visit the town’s website, www.toh.li and click on “Contact Town Hall” to submit their comments via the “Kate Murray’s Helpline Form.” All submissions should be made prior to Tuesday, Sept. 21. Of course, residents are welcome to attend the Tuesday, Sept. 21 hearing in person and are invited to comment at that meeting.

The proposal for T-Mobile to erect cellular equipment at the Farmingdale Wantagh Jewish Center has sparked much debate within the community. The town adjourned its decision to a later date, pending the new legislature to be enacted at the Sept. 21st hearing.

“We are sending a loud and clear message to wireless service providers when we declare ‘Can you hear us now’?” concluded Murray. “Hempstead Town and its residents will be heard with expert testimony and a new telecommunications ordinance. Residents will now have the highest level of protection from the telecommunication giants allowed under federal law.”