Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 05 November 2010 00:00
NextG’s cell antennas and aircraft noise are still on the minds of residents who turned up at the Environmental Advisory Board meeting last week. The board listened to residents’ concerns and vowed to continue to research the laws on radio frequency emissions emitted from NextG’s Networks Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS).
At a village board meeting last month, many individuals voiced their opposition to the recent installation of the DAS in nine Garden City residents’ backyards. Many residents questioned the health risks of the radio frequency emissions and their close proximity to residences. Quinn reminded the audience that the village board recently approved a motion to engage an environmental firm to perform an emission analysis of the particular areas in question. He also reported that the board should receive a preliminary proposal by a firm in the very near future.
Trustee Nicholas Episcopia attended the meeting and offered some clarifications to residents on the NextG issue. He explained that NextG originally wanted to put the DAS on the boxes and the antennas the village owns, but the village had rejected that proposal. “There was a huge debate about that back in the spring, going back and forth, and nobody wanted it. It sets a very bad precedent. If you do that, then anybody can come along and start sticking things on top of the poles that we own,” he said.
Episcopia reminded residents that NextG did not need permission from the village to install the DAS because it is considered a public utility. “Remember that these people went through an [public] easement. They didn’t need our permission to do anything. There was a specific utility easement. They have a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which makes them a public utility, so they just go in and pay whoever owns the pole and put things up. They don’t need permission from the village,” he said.
Episcopia went on to explain that a lot of research was done on the issue and clarified that the village is not being paid for use of any light poles. “We get nothing out of this. There is nobody screaming for more cell phone service. We don’t get a fee out of this,” he added.
Another resident asked if the board has actually seen the Certificate of Public Convenience and wanted to know if it was legal and valid. Trustees Quinn and Episcopia said they haven’t personally seen it but they will inquire with counsel to get a copy of it. Quinn added that one of things that is in the village’s favor is that it is one of the few localities that owns their own light poles. “We felt gladdened by the fact that we had control over some of the locations that they could’ve put it in,” Quinn said.
Episcopia added that he thinks the boxes should be moved up much higher in the air. “One of these things that we didn’t know was that these boxes were going to be that low. We didn’t know that,” he said.
Trustee Quinn said he and the board will investigate the easement rights on the underground fiber optic use to the poles itself and also acquire a copy of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and ask what rights the certificate affords. He also said he would find out what law governs radio frequency exposures and if the DAS in Garden City are placed within the proper distance limits from residential homes.
In other village news, Trustee Quinn reported that the board of trustees recently approved funds for the village to join the Town of Hempstead Air Safety Noise Abatement Committee. Board members recently attended one of the committee’s meetings at Lawrence Village Hall. Quinn said he received eight complaints about aircraft noise from residents over the last week.
One board member suggested setting up a website or email address where residents who are bothered by aircraft noise can log the time and date when the aircraft are particularly problematic. Quinn said the board will continue to collect the information and keep track of the issues. The email address will be made public at a future village board meeting.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the EAB has tentatively planned their regular November meeting date to Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. at Village Hall. Visit the village website at gardencityny.net for more information and the meeting agenda.