(The following letter was sent to Jaye Martin from Sea Cliff Mayor Eileen Krieb and is published here at her request.)
Thank you for your letter of February 27. You are obviously distressed over the public works facility and the possible cell phone tower on the site. As you know I am no stranger to the area and I agree that the operation of the facility could and should be much more sensitive to the nearby residents. Over the last year or so I have taken steps to make the situation better. The hours of operation for the recycling center were dramatically shortened. It is no longer open 24/7. Attempts have been made to keep it cleaner, although I admit, not as clean as I would like. Six months ago the village board began plans to completely remodel the public garage building, recognizing that it is unsightly and in need of repair. We have dedicated at least $450,000 in taxpayer money to the project. We have worked hard to get leaves cleared out of the yard in a timely manner and to clean up the general area. This is not easy to do. It is a working public works facility. Trucks change into plows there, sanding equipment is added and the street sweeper unloads debris there. It is a storage area for leaves and Christmas trees and wood chips until that material can be carted away. However, we have made a concerted effort to make it quieter and cleaner and we are committed to spending a lot of money to make the entire facility look and operate better.
The cell phone situation is a very complex and difficult one and I'd like to try and explain how the village board approached the issue and why it reached certain conclusions.
The question that was first brought to the board was "Should we take some action on the overall cell tower situation, or leave it alone and leave it to chance?" To answer that question the board had to make some judgments about what might happen if the issue was left to chance. We knew that a cell tower couldn't be put up on any property if the owner didn't want it. So village government could say: "no cell towers on public property." But could private property owners put cell towers up? The answer was yes. Properties such as the Methodist Church, Harbor Lumber, Sans Souci, St. Boniface Church, one of the auto repair places on Sea Cliff or Roslyn Avenues, even a homeowner with enough property could feel that they need the money and apply to put up a cell tower. If that happened, the tower might be an ugly industrial type tower (they are cheaper to build), nearby residents would be outraged and only the individual property owner would get any economic benefit. We don't know if this will happen, but given the Federal law and the need for cell phone coverage, the board concluded that there was certainly a good chance of it happening. So the board decided that taking action to try to control the cell tower issue was the better course.
The board then determined that there were four cell phone companies who wanted coverage in the Sea Cliff area (the other two indicated that they had no need and weren't interested in a Sea Cliff site). We also learned that a tower designed to look like a flagpole could hold four carriers. Therefore, all four could locate inside one pole and there would be no need for a second or third tower in the village, and there wouldn't have to be an erector-set looking tower anywhere in Sea Cliff. The flagpole itself is 26" in diameter from top to bottom. It can be white or light gray or pale blue and pretty much blend into the sky. Looking toward the north there would be nothing behind it to outline it. The ground equipment can be landscaped and covered.
We then had to address location; where was the best place to locate one? Public parks were ruled out for many reasons, primarily legal ones involving state law. The firehouse and village hall buildings were ruled out due to structural, height, capacity and landmark status problems. The village beach area is too low. The village parking lot is desperately needed for the downtown and overnight parking it provides. But the public works facility on Altamont Avenue held a number of advantages. It is a large area that provides a reasonable buffer for nearby residential properties. (Sea Cliff does not have any significant separation between its commercial and residential areas). There are no houses on the north side of the site, the garage buffers the houses to the west and there is 70 to 50 feet from houses on the east and south. The board's conclusion was that it was clearly the most suitable publicly owned site. We considered property values and felt that a very tall pole in the middle of the facility would not impact the property values of houses in the area. It might not add to values, but it shouldn't decrease them. We also didn't feel that it would be a "degradation of the neighborhood" and we do not understand why it would lead to an increase in your homeowner's insurance rates.
However, the board understands that you disagree. You might feel that no matter what it looks like or what the circumstances are, you do not want it at the public works facility. The board and myself have heard your comments and objections and will take them into consideration before taking any further action.
Village of Sea Cliff