The Village of Lake Success has rejected settlement of a lawsuit over cell nodes filed by ExteNet Systems, while the Village of Plandome is preparing to vote on two additional nodes in the midst of its own lawsuit against the infrastructure provider.
Lake Success, which rejected all but four of ExteNet’s 13 cell node applications in May and headed into mediation with the Illinois-based company later in the year, had received a settlement offer of seven of the originally proposed 13 nodes. But the village’s Board of Trustees voted against the plan, 4-3, on Monday night.
Trustees David Milner, Lawrence Farkas, Sugnam Peter Chang and Deputy Mayor Stephen Lam voted against the settlement, while Trustees Gene Kaplan and Robert Gal, and Mayor Adam Hoffman voted for it.
The vote was followed by applause from over 30 residents, but the deputy mayor and mayor warned that it may not be the end.
“Most of the people gathered here are not in favor of the application,” Lam said. “I can’t tell you how much time Adam has spent to try and get an agreement with our counsel. The board spent a lot of time and consideration, and we all have different reasons for voting for or against it, but I think you have to understand that if all of you are saying no, and the board voted no, there very well may be ramifications. We had an agreement on the table that was mediated between the village and ExteNet, that eliminates several poles, moves several poles across Lakeville Road. That offer may very well be off the table if this decision goes forward to the ExteNet people in the court.”
Lam added that he “couldn’t say what our chances are if it goes to court.”
“We’re taking a very real risk of being sent back three years to the original application, which is what you’re asking us to do,” Lam said. “I think you have to take it into consideration that you are playing a very large part in this decision. It’s not just a decision of the board, it’s a decision of a lot of the residents of Lake Success who will say, ‘vote against it.’ And by doing so, we all have to accept the possible consequences.”
Mayor Hoffman said that he had similar concerns that the situation could turn “all or nothing.”
“There’s a real risk that three to four nodes now end up on individuals’ front lawns,” Hoffman said. “Not across the street from their house, but on their house, on a pole 10 feet from. I don’t want it near anyone’s house, but if this is going to court, and there is a possibility that we lose because they have the court on their side. I’m sure everyone’s going to fight it and if we’re sitting here a year from now and it’s in front of people’s lawns, that’s something we’ll all have to live it.”
Hoffman noted that the matter had been before the board for three years, and acknowledged that while the settlement was “not perfect,” it would have been the best option.
“I’m disappointed, honestly, I really am. I think we had the best solution we could possibly get out of this. And we’re going to be back at square one, where we won’t have control of where they go, where they have the right to go to court on that judgment and we have to hope that the judge feels for us, and it’s a summary judgment so there’s not going to be a lot of say on our part. We have to hope that the judge feels sorry for Lake Success, and that to me is not a great plan.”
The board then resolved 6 to 1 that it would approve the settlement if Node 12c, which had received much public criticism, was removed.
In Plandome, the next Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, will see a vote on the last two cell nodes in ExteNet’s 10 applications. The November meeting saw the trustees reject eight of the proposed 10, resulting in ExteNet suing the village a month later.
The two proposed stealth nodes that will be voted on are marked as 42 and 46, and are located near the southern end of The Ridge and near the east end of North Drive.
The Village of Plandome did not respond to a call for comment.
A call to ExteNet’s legal department was not immediately returned.