Town amends time limits for zoning procedures

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Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said that, after receiving
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Town of North Hempstead unanimously passed a law amending its zoning code last Thursday night, setting limits for how long parties can remain in certain stages of the zoning changes application process without taking further action.

Applicants are now given three years to act on approved variances, special permits, site plan reviews and changes of zone.

“The adoption of this local law will prevent property developers from receiving certain approvals such as a site plan approval and holding onto those approvals for a long period of time before actually developing the property,” said Chief Deputy Town Attorney Michael Kelly. “It will make sure that the process keeps moving.”

The three-year time limit for each of the procedures is eligible for extension. Variances and site plan reviews have the potential to extend one year beyond the three-year limit as many as three times.

Changes of zone can be extended for a maximum of one year and special permits can be extended by six months.

Councilman Peter Zuckerman was the only town board member absent for the vote.

At its March 19 meeting, the board will vote on a law that would established as many limitations on wireless telecommunication devices as the town can under federal law, Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said.

In recent years, companies that wanted to put in 5G cell nodes – installations that provide wireless telecommunication service – have approached the town, she said. While federal law restricts the town from rejecting such technology, the town wants to maintain as much authority as it can in this situation, Bosworth said.

The current draft of the law requires companies to follow a specific procedure if they intend to install a cell node on town-owned property and to provide notice to owners of property within 200 feet of the planned location. It also outlines location, color and height requirements for the nodes and antennas.

Several residents expressed concern to the town board about safety hazards of 5G technology.

“Scientific data from 11 reputable studies shows an association between cell phone tower radiation and various cancers,” said Laura Weinberg, president of the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition. “There is more than enough cancer instances in the Town of North Hempstead. Our surrounding cancer centers are bustling with people.”

While the town does not have the authority to ban 5G cell nodes, Bosworth encouraged concerned citizens to communicate with politicians at the federal level.

“What we can do is we can urge our federally elected officials to look at this carefully and to advocate for us, their residents,” Bosworth said. “I think it would be important for our residents to do the same.”

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