Old Westbury hires consultant to help with cell nodes

Old Westbury hires consultant to help with cell nodes
Crown Castle attorney Robert Guadioso, left, addressed Old Westbury trustees during a public hearing Monday night about installing 22 cell nodes in the village. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

The Village of Old Westbury Board of Trustees on Monday held the second public hearing on a request to install 22 cell nodes, which are antennas placed on utility poles to enhance cellphone service.

The nodes would be placed on 11 existing village poles and 11 proposed poles by Crown Castle International Corp.

Attorney Robert Gaudioso, on behalf Crown Castle, said his client has done many of the things requested by trustees at the August meeting, including marking the 22 proposed locations in the village. Gaudioso said sites for proposed poles are marked with orange stakes in the ground, and existing poles for proposed nodes are marked with orange tape.

Gaudioso also said more notices were sent to residents before the September hearing, and all residents at the hearing said they did receive a notice.

The nodes would provide service for Verizon Wireless, but Gaudioso said the facilities would be usable for any cell service carrier that wanted to expand its service in the village later.

Trustee Edward Novick reminded the crowd that nothing has been approved by the village, and village Attorney Michael Sahn said this proposal stems from a 2010 agreement between the village and NextG, now Crown Castle, to allow right-of-way use in the village.

“If they demonstrate that the existing facilities are not sufficient to provide the service within the village, and it’s their burden to demonstrate that, then they have the right to apply for and seek additional facilities,” Sahn said.

Sahn’s colleague, Thomas McKevitt, explained that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 pre-empts any municipality from looking into the effects of the radio frequency emissions from an antenna.

“As long as these facilities are within the guidelines set by the FCC, this board and every board in the country has no jurisdiction into it, and that includes any state health department and local health departments because Congress specifically pre-empted any other government from being able to look into this issue,” McKevitt said. “That’s what the federal law is, and there’s been many lawsuits challenging if the FCC can do this, and that’s been the answer every time.”

Village Administrator Brian Ridgway said David Spektor with Sidney B. Bowne and Son engineering firm in Mineola was hired as a consultant by the village for the Crown Castle project.

“In the worst-case scenario, on all installations, we’re not exceeding 4 percent of the permissible levels, and that’s within immediate proximity of the poles,” Spektor said. “Let’s go inside your house. You have a wireless router conveniently placed on your desk. Ive got news for you — the levels of emission from that router is about 50 to 100 times higher than what you receive from the pole if it’s situated immediately in front of your house.

“You’re already in this RF emission ocean, and that addition that comes from outside is minimal.”

Dr. Fakhry Alexander, a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Jamaica, said he was concerned about how the radiation could affect residents’ health.

“This is not a one-time exposure,” Alexander said. “This is chronic exposure to radiations, and it has very bad effects on health.”

Vicki Seltzer of Bacon Road, who also attended the first hearing, returned with her concerns that two potential node locations are approximately 1,000 feet apart on Bacon Road.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s 26 and 56 or 26 and 58, the problem is Bacon Road is not dense and I can’t understand why we’d need two poles,” Seltzer said.

While Crown Castle is pushing to get its facilities into the village, Mayor Fred Carillo said he is trying to mitigate the aesthetic impact if the nodes are approved but does not especially want this infrastructure in Old Westbury.

“We’re not happy with it. We’re in the same position you are,” Carillo said. “We think we have the right consultants to help us prove that maybe they don’t need that coverage.”

The hearing was continued to the Oct. 16 meeting.

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