Village of Plandome trustees rejected two cell nodes from ExteNet Systems at a crowded board meeting Tuesday night, with residents and officials again citing concerns about aesthetics and property values.
Plandome trustees voted 4-0 to reject the two nodes, meaning the village did not accept any of the Illinois-based distributed network company’s 10 node applications. The village rejected eight in November, leading to ExteNet suing it a month later.
If approved, the two nodes would have been installed on 35-foot-tall green decorative poles at 25 The Ridge and on the south side of North Drive, west of the intersection with Brookside Drive and east of the intersection of Woodland Drive.
“I think it is particularly clear that all the reasons that apply for why we did not approve the eight equally apply to these two,” Trustee Andrew Bartels said. “The aesthetic reasons, the impact on property values… Indeed, if anything the case against is stronger with these two nodes than in the case with the other ones.”
Plandome’s 10 rejected nodes are part of a larger plan with Verizon, which has contracted ExteNet Systems to get 66 cellular nodes installed throughout North Hempstead.
Plandome residents in attendance, who expressed opposition to installing cellular nodes in the village, applauded the board’s decision.
Rachel Yemm, a Woodland Drive resident urging rejection of the two nodes, said their installation would be detrimental and not have an equivalent positive benefit.
“I think I speak for many of my neighbors when I say that my concern is about the aesthetics and the effect it will have on our home values as a result,” Yemm said. “We moved here when my kids were 8 and one of the reasons was just the incredible unique feel of this community based on the gorgeous surroundings that it had.”
Eileen Denihan, a North Drive resident, put it more flatly.
“Honestly,” Denihan said, “nobody wants this in their backyard.”
The village’s decision comes amid a legal battle with ExteNet, which sued Plandome in December over the eight rejected nodes. Lake Success and Flower Hill, which rejected some or all of ExteNet’s proposals, have also been facing lawsuits.
David Conway, a North Drive resident, said one of the cell nodes would be 63.5 feet from his residence instead of more than 100 feet away as expected. “So since we’re being sued for eight,” he said, “I suggest we throw mine in as well and get sued for nine.”
Richard Lambert, the regional director of external relations for ExteNet’s eastern region, said the company has conferred with the village’s consultants and researched various possible sites in hopes of bringing the best possible cellular coverage to the village.
“We are not renegotiating sites at this time,” Lambert said.
Asked about the result of the vote, he said he hopes ExteNet and the village can have a relationship going forward. The technological change also isn’t going away, he added, so it’s possible that other competitors could come in seeking to install nodes as well.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come to an agreement,” Lambert said.
Asked about a possibility for a lawsuit over the rejection, Lambert said he first needs to consult with ExteNet officials.