Lake Success residents condemned a proposal to install cell nodes throughout the village at a crowded public hearing on Monday night, questioning the project’s necessity and pushing for elected officials to fight back.
Representatives from ExteNet, which is representing Verizon, outlined nine of the 13 nodes being considered for installation on poles in various parts of the village. This is meant to boost cell coverage and increase data capacity in the area, they said, and create a “better mobile experience.”
Four of the nodes, which would be in residential areas, were tabled because a community committee is being formed to discuss alternatives, Mayor Adam Hoffman said.
Susan Rabold, a Cityscape representative working for the village, said that over years the required data capacity needed for cellphones has increased. She said that small sites often address those capacity issues and that, in the future, they will be more common.
“Fourth generation is all about capacity,” Rabold said.
Rabold said the federal government has deemed the emissions as “non-ionizing” in that “they don’t change the molecular cell structure, and therefore there is no harm to humans.” Under federal rules, Rabold also said, local governments generally must let service providers “deploy their networks.”
“You have to let them in,” Rabold said. “You have to act expeditiously on the request. You have to treat them all equal.”
Additionally, officials said, regulations are likely to change so that a special use permit – which ExteNet is seeking – may no longer be necessary.
Several residents – among them real estate brokers, doctors and lawyers – said that if officials signed off on the project, the presence of the cell nodes could damage people’s health, the village’s beauty and property values.
Edna Mashaal, a Lake Success resident and real estate broker, said she loves her village and questioned why officials would want to compromise its beauty or even take a slight risk when it comes to health.
Then, speaking as a real estate broker, Mashaal said in recent years “it’s been very difficult” and that the nodes will only drive down property values.
“Our values will go down,” Mashaal said. “I promise.”
Marc Voses, a Lake Success resident and attorney, described the application as “faulty,” not adhering to village code and not using a proper form of analysis when it comes to coverage needs.
He also cited a federal case with the Town of Islip, where it was able to reject a cell node application based on aesthetics and a demonstrated lack of need to improve cell coverage.
“We don’t need this and there’s been no demonstrated need for these towers,” Voses said.
Jill Madenberg, who has sent studies to the board and expressed health concerns over the nodes, said the hearing clearly shows that residents are against the cell nodes.
“I kept hearing from ExteNet about wanting to engage our community,” Madenberg said. “And if you look around this room, we are engaged, and we don’t want this.”
Some residents also took interest in the village’s representation and transparency about the process, highlighting that village Attorney Andrea Curto of the Forchelli Deegan Terrana law firm had a colleague who represented T-Mobile when it sought to build cellphone towers in Wantagh.
Curto said the firm has not represented ExteNet in the past and that if there was a conflict, she would have informed the board and recused herself.
Additionally, one resident also said a more “adversarial” approach might be needed to get the best results for the village.