Plandome board OKs moratorium on cellular ‘nodes’

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Village of Plandome Mayor M. Lloyd Williams and Trustee Katie Saville are seen at Monday's meeting. (Photo by Amanda Copkov)

By Amanda Copkov

The Village of Plandome Board of Trustees voted Monday to impose a six-month moratorium on the installation of telecommunication facilities throughout the village.

These telecommunication facilities, or nodes, were proposed by Extenet Systems Inc. for use by wireless service providers. The nodes comprise an antenna and other equipment  attached to wooden poles.

The board discussed several issues the village has with the proposed nodes, such as the large size of the poles they will be placed on, the visual impact they may have, as well as how they may affect the village in terms of radiation.

Mayor M. Lloyd Williams said the board wanted to put the moratorium in place to go over the proposal by ExteNet further and to be able to hold a public hearing before or in September.

“It is in the best interest of the village to declare a moratorium to have more time to study [the proposal] and find out exactly what is behind it,” Williams said. “We want to make sure that it’s safe for the residents of the village.”

Trustees also mentioned that villages in surroundings areas have been facing similar issues regarding infrastructure proposals from wireless cell providers.

Under federal law, Williams said, the providers are allowed to install equipment to improve cell service.

“A lot of villages are wondering what the implications are,” Williams said. “The moratorium would give us more time to study this and make sure that we have some degree of control [over where these structures] are located.”

Williams also said he hasn’t heard complaints about cellphone reception in the village. Others at the meeting said there tend to be “dead spots” around the Plandome Long Island Rail Road station.

“They’re not the most handsome things in town, and we don’t want them to take away from the rest of the village,” Williams said.

Village Attorney John Ritter said the village’s concern is that the structures could be placed in close proximity to residences, making them visible from some residents’ front windows.

“We want to see if it would be easier to move [the nodes] to another pole where [they] have less of a visual impact,” he said.

Also on Monday, Williams and the village building inspector and code enforcement officer, David DeRienzis, brought up the subject of residential zoning laws.

Williams said Plandome expects to look into the height and size of residential homes, some of which have recently caused some alarm in the community.

DeRienzis said some houses being built are between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet. He said five houses of this scale were built recently, with a sixth proposed to be built for 9,000 square feet on Shore Road.

He said that homes of this scale comply with the current village code, although no one has built houses of this size until recently. Williams said some surrounding neighborhoods have also recently experienced these kinds of concerns.

“The Village of Flower Hill is about to enact a law on the height and size in different lots,” Williams said. “And we have to, too, because it isn’t really the look [the village] would like to have.”

A few residents expressed concerns about the big houses, saying they are “out of scale with the entire community” and that “the character of the neighborhood is at stake.”

At a previous meeting, village Clerk Elizabeth Kaye said, the board talked about hiring a planner to look at the whole village and suggest changes to the zoning code. No decision has been made about this.

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