Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 11 December 2009 00:00
Residents expressed concern over the proposed plan from NextG Networks and MetroPCS Communications, Inc. at the Garden City Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Dec. 3. The proposed plan would install distributed antenna systems into 15 light poles throughout Garden City. Additionally, NextG would install taller light poles that do not retain the look of the current light poles in the village.
NextG represents themselves as a telecommunications company and also as a public utility. Counsel Gerard Fishberg stated that they have a certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the New York State Public Service Commission, which means that they are registered with the Public Service Commission. NextG claims that they have the legal right to install the antennas under the state regulatory authority and federal empowerment.
Many are worried that the street poles, which could be up to 28 feet high, would depreciate their property values. “One of the locations happens to be right in front of my house, and literally, only feet from our bedroom,” said one resident who has lived in Garden City for over 10 years. “There is no question that the negative value on my home would be significant.”
Residents are also concerned about potential long-term health hazards and said that they would leave the homes that they loved and worked hard to maintain in order to escape these possible health effects. One resident further claimed that the uncertain long-term health effects from the antennas could potentially lower property values throughout the whole village, instead of just the locations where the poles would be installed, due to NextG’s plan to install the antennas near schools. “The proposed placement of antennas next to our schools would have a villagewide impact on value, as parents who do not want their children in close proximity to the antennas throughout the school day may choose to avoid our community entirely,” the person commented.
Residents also asked why residential locations are being considered, especially those near schools and parks, instead of commercial locations or by the sumps or other places where people do not live. Residents also asked whether NextG has the right to designate the locations where the antennas are installed.
Trustee Dennis C. Donnelly said, “The locations that have been published are their choices.” He added that it is an issue that they are trying to deal with on behalf of the residents and reminded everyone that the board members themselves are residents.
One resident asked how much money the village would make off of the poles, and Mayor Robert J. Rothschild responded that it would be $500 per pole, per year, which angered many of the people at the meeting. “We certainly did not reach out for this,” said Trustee Andrew J. Cavanaugh. “They claim to have a charter from the Public Service Commission of New York State, which permits them to enter and there is in fact a provision in the Federal Telecommunications Act under which they have some colorable authority.” He added that they are discussing this with counsel to determine NextG’s exact rights. “So don’t believe that we are in it for $500 per pole per year, or that we have simply thought that we would commercialize a residential area by bringing in transmission towers. This is something we have been forced to deal with by what they claim to be their legal right.”
Trustee Donald T. Brudie reiterated that this was not a situation that they invited into the village and stated that the board is required to provide NextG’s application with due process before making any determination or detailed public comment on the proposal. “They filed an application and they have a right to file the application and make this request,” Brudie said. “We have made no determination at this point. Counsel has to provide us with certain information before we can make any decision.”
Mayor Rothschild stated that there is no timetable on these discussions at this point because the board is waiting on this additional information that needs to be seen together in one package, rather than piecemeal. He added that more information would likely be forthcoming next month.