Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 08 October 2010 00:00
After the last regular meeting of the Williston Park Village Board, the board held a hearing on the installation of additional cell antennas on the Williston House at 600 Willis Avenue and it quickly turned into a marathon session, ending after midnight.
Prior to the hearing the following legal notice, that appeared in the newspaper, was read: “Continuation of a Special Exception Application by Cingular Wireless to Seek Permission to Install a Public Utility Wireless Telecommunications Facility at 600 Willis Avenue, New York. Includes the installation of Panel Antennas on the building rooftop and related equipment cabinets within the subject building.”
John Huber represented the cell company and he is an attorney with a law firm in Huntington.
He opened the hearing by saying, “Just a quick introduction, I believe in the spirit of cooperation, our role is to provide information to you, and if we can maintain an orderly meeting, it will enable us to present the information in an understandable way.
“We do have a lot of information to present, and I have about nine exhibits to present to you. We sent out about 100 cards to be signed by not only the property owners but the tenants informing them of this meeting.”
Huber continued, “Your village has already adopted a Wireless Code and it is very specific about the items that should be addressed. It protects the people in the community and at the same time it is very practical and workable.
“The key item I want to emphasize to you tonight is that we are not proposing a new cell tower. We are putting up antennas. They are about 4’ tall and not very wide. We are attaching them to the chimney on the rooftop of the building and they will be concealed within a chimney and you will not be able to see them, all you will see will be a chimney.”
Huber went on to say, “The history of the site goes back to 2006 when we approached the village about possibly attaching antennas on the water tank at Kelleher Field and that discussion went on until 2007. Sometime between February ’07 and August ’09 that proposal for the water tank did not come to fruition.”
Huber said, “I am here tonight representing AT&T Wireless, the local subsidiary that is referred to as the New Cingular Wireless, PSLLC. The four building apartment found on Willis Avenue at 610, 600, 590 and 580 is a long-established entity for wireless activity. I believe you have at least three or four other carriers on that roof and there is a reason for that because that is the tallest structure in that area and that enables the wireless carriers to address the deficiencies that exist in order to have cell phone service. When you are on your phone and you cannot receive a call or make a call that is called a ‘service deficiency’ and in order to address that we need to locate the facility that is high enough to clear all the obstacles and 600 Willis is an ideal location. He said, “the exhibits I am presenting have already been submitted to the board and after each is presented, the board will take questions. I would then like to present the architectural plans. Mr. Neil McDonald, who is a principal in the architectural firm of William F. Collins is here to discuss those plans.
“One of the items I would like to clarify is that we were here in December of ’09 to begin the hearing and we went through it a bit and the meeting was adjourned. At that time individuals who live in the apartment complex were confused as to which building in the complex we were talking about. At this time I would like to clarify that we are talking about 600 Willis Avenue, known as Williston House.”
Mr. Huber than called up Mr. McDonald to show the elevation of what is proposed. McDonald said, “Essentially, the only equipment we are proposing for the roof are the antennas. All the equipment is in the building itself. The cables will be routed through the building. The antennas will be at roof level and they will be hidden behind screening material, which is simulated brick. There will be 6 antennas, but will be concealed from view. I believe this is the least visually obtrusive way of attaching these antennas to that rooftop because you will not see the antennas.”
Trustee Alagna wanted to know the time it would take to construct the antennas on the roof and Mr. McDonald said that the total construction time would probably be less than 3 weeks and that most of the crew would be onsite working within the confines of the ground level parking garage where the utilities of the building are held. The work is relatively minor and even getting the material to the roof it can be carried by hand to the roof, so there will be no cranes needed.
Another resident wanted to know if the Town of North Hempstead zoning decision that no new cell structures be constructed applied to this application and it was explained to her, by Mr. McDonald, that the Village of Williston Park has its own zoning code and that would be all that would apply to the application.
In answer to a question about noise, McDonald said that there is no noise that comes from the antenna. The equipment that makes any noise is placed in the basement or parking lot area. The air-conditioners are placed in the elevation and they will not be seen. Just two louvers will be seen and the sound level information of the unit to be installed is 56.25 decibels which is below the 70 decibel and will probably be below even that level at ground level. McDonald said they took sound levels.
One resident, who lives directly behind the facility said, “Can you guarantee us that this facility will not give off cancer.”
Huber said, “I understand your question and I emphathize with all who are concerned about that, but the FCC established guidelines within which wireless category must operate and so long as the cumulative output falls below those guidelines stated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. We have an FCC compliance expert here and we could have evaluated the radio frequency output from just this facility, but we asked Mr. Cornaccia, the expert, to tell us how much the output is from all the wireless structures on this building and we discovered it is only about 7 percent of the FCC guidelines. But, this form of energy does not alter the chemical of cells. This is a different form of energy, it is non-ionizing form of energy.
Another resident said that the brunt of the eyesore on the roof is seen from her backyard. She said that neighbors have not been able to sell their homes; because of it they will be unable to get the amount their homes are worth. The resident said, My first question is what portion of Williston Park is serviced by this facility and if other communities in the area are serviced than it would be fair to look at other communities for this installation. The second question is what is the height of chimney. The existing chimney is 3’ x 3’ and the new chimney will be 5’8” x 6’ 7.”
Huber said, “If the application is approved, I would be willing to say that any future antenna will not exceed the height of the existing one. As far as this application is concerned, everything will be concealed on the roof. If we can, when we can, we take a creative approach to installation.”
Another resident said that from her backyard she can see all those cell towers and they have not been able to sell their house.
Mayor Ehrbar said that the Architectural Review Board would have to approve the plans after the board approves the application and they would have the right to approve or disapprove the plans.
Yet another plan was presented outlining the cell phone coverage in the area that would be covered if the plan is approved.
It didn’t make Mayor Ehrbar, or the board, or anyone in the audience very happy when it was disclosed that a higher structure had been discussed to place the antenna, namely the water tower in Albertson, but that Albertson Water had rejected that application.
The board and the residents went back and forth discussing all of the exhibits shown and as stated, the hearing lasted until after midnight, and the board finally closed the hearing and reserved the decision of the board on the application.
Prior to the hearing of the Village of Williston Park, a regular meeting was conducted by Mayor Paul Ehrbar.
At the outset he gave citations to 25-year employees and was able to swear in a new Welcoming Committee. He said that he felt it necessary to have such a committee since so many new people were moving into the village.
Mayor Ehrbar said that during their work session, held before the board meeting, it was decided, based on a state law, to include the firefighters and ambulance workers on the village health insurance policy, at their own expense.
Mayor Ehrbar also addressed a question, regarding the cameras in the meeting room, that was asked at the last meeting. He said there were two cameras, installed at the request of the court, no audio. The other is in the hallway and they are not activated during a village board meeting.
Mayor Ehrbar reported that after many, many years and a few administrations, the Ackerman grant of $1 million awarded to the village from the state has been released. Ehrbar commented, “That’s good news and hopefully we can now get started on road reconstruction.”
He said he wasn’t in town for Williston Day, but he commended both the Chamber of Commerce of The Willistons and Lucille Waters, who was in charge of the event, for its outstanding success.
He reported that the water tank and the additional road projects are now just down to “punch” list items.
He said, “Last week deputy mayor Thomann, trustee Rynne and I went to Lake Placid for the Annual Conference of Mayors. We split up and attended many seminars and the theme this year was, “Do More With Less.”
She, too, said the Mayors Conference was very informative. She also said she was at Williston Day and it was so well organized and she then said that the 9-11 ceremony, held at the Little League field, was very touching.
She also said that the Williston Park Fire Department was lauded after the 12 o’clock Mass at St. Aidan’s for their quick and efficient help in helping to free those who were stuck in an elevator at St. Aidans.
She also reported that the fire department will hold Fire Prevention Day on Oct. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. She said that the department continues to raises funds and they are still waiting for a grant that has been promised to them that they have not received.
Deputy mayor Thomann also announced that on Sept. 18 a cocktail party was held to honor Phil O’Donnell for his 50 years of service to the department.
She also reported that the auxiliary police logged in l79 volunteer hours and are looking for volunteers.
Trustee Darmstadt lauded the members of the little league for arriving at the 9-11 ceremony early so they could set-up everything in advance. He said the actual ceremony was very touching and thanked everyone involved.
Trustee Rynne announced that the First Family Fun Day would be held at Kelleher Field on Oct. 2 and from all indications it was set to be a great day with wheelbarrow and potato sack races.
He announced that the Beautification Committee met the Sunday before the street fair to clean out all the beds of flowers on Hillside Avenue and he thanked all who helped.
Trustee Rynne also announced that this year the Annual Halloween Parade will be held on October 31 and it will travel up Park Avenue and after the parade will be a contest of the best decorated pumpkins displayed on village hall lawn.
Trustee Alagna announced the return of the flu shots on Oct. 7 at the American Legion Hall from 9 a.m. to noon, through the auspices of Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell.
She also announced the results of the court cases. Judge Kevin Kiley heard 93 cases collecting fines of $6,505 with a surcharge of $316 and Judge Beth Swendsen-Dowd heard 38 cases collecting fines of $1, 455 with a surcharge of $25.
Supervisor of Public Works Keith Brunnel announced that the road project was completed and the water tanks have been filled and refilled and are waiting for the approval from the health department. There will be hydrant flushing on Oct. 25.
The next report was from Building Inspector Kerry Collins. He reported that from Aug. 16. there have been many combined permit fees collecting an amount of $21,790 for the village.
He said that 11 building applications have been issued for the following locations: 172 Hillside, 106 Williams Street, 591 Willis Avenue, for Café Bocci Coffee, 711 Willis, Apartment 4-D, 711 Willis, Apartment 3-D, 36 Hawthorne, 94 Sheridan, 211 Collins Street, 191-193 Collins.
Library Director Donna McKenna reported that the street fair was very successful and she said that the Friends of The Library raised $1, 034 for the library and she thanked them for that.
Further she announced that on Oct. 14 the Nassau County of Assessment staff would be on hand at the library from 6 to 8 p.m. to answer any questions. Plus, on Oct. 21 there will be a Craft Fair in the library from 6:30 p.m. and there will instruction on how to craft a ceramic pumpkin. On Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be an AARP Driving seminar. Williston Park residents will be given first preference.
Director McKenna also announced that for the Children’s Program there would be a Tiny Tykes Program on Oct.13 and 20. They will hold two sessions. One at 10:30 and the other at 11:30 a.m. The fee is $35. Further, they are resuming story telling on Oct. 12 and 19 and Nov. 2 and 9 from 11 to 11:45 a.m. for children 3 ½ to 5. After-school story time will be on Oct. 14, 21 and Nov. 4 from 4 to 4:45 p.m.
She added that donations are appreciated, but due to space, they are not accepting any further donations.