The Munsey Park Board of Trustees approved a conditional use permit for telecommunications technology company ExteNet to install a cell node to improve cell service in the village last Wednesday evening.
The node will be in a reconstructed flagpole in the triangle between Manhasset Woods Road and Park Avenue, a plot of land on village property.
A group of ExteNet representatives made an extensive presentation last Wednesday before the board went into executive session and then reopened the meeting to vote. The meeting was the board’s first since Lawrence Ceriello was elected mayor and Joseph Williams was elected to fill his trustee seat.
The purpose of the node is to fill a gap in cellular coverage in the village, company representatives said.
To accommodate the node, the existing flagpole will be replaced with one that is at least 50 feet high.
There is currently a cell node in the Congregational Church of Manhasset steeple, which is a “macro site,” meaning it provides wider coverage. The flagpole location would be a micro site, said Richard Lambert Jr., ExteNet’s regional manager for external relations.
The purpose of adding a micro site is to provide an additional cellular source that can support high demand.
“Think of it as a highway out here,” Lambert said. “You have coverage so the highway gets to you. In other words, the macro site gets to you. However, in high peak times it’s slow.”
The issue of coverage in the village arose when Verizon approached ExteNet, said Christopher Frederick, senior radio frequency design engineer.
ExteNet studied the village and tried to avoid placing the node directly in front of a home.
Munsey Park does not have the right to block a company from placing a node in the village due to Federal Communications Commission regulations.
Last year, ExteNet sued the village when it did not act upon its application to construct a node. It dropped the lawsuit in August, and in December Trustee Anthony Sabino said the two parties were working in a “spirit of cooperation” to install the node.
Deputy Mayor Jennifer Noone was the sole vote against granting the permit and said she was aware of the federal requirements when she voted.
“I would not want a node placed by my home. Therefore I voted no so I would not put my constituents in that position,” she wrote in an email. “As a village, our hands are tied by federal regulation, but I had to express my dissent.”
The reason for her dissent is concern about health effects from exposure to such devices, she said.
The maximum exposure from this particular node would be less than 1 percent of the FCC limits, said Kenneth Foster, a bioengineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who attended the meeting on ExteNet’s behalf.
“My opinion, as well as those of health agencies, is that exposures at levels below international limits have no identified hazard, and that’s certainly the case here,” Foster said. “The exposures here are very far below.”
ExteNet is also looking to place 18 cell nodes in the neighboring Village of Flower Hill. Those nodes are up for a vote on May 6.
The node’s positioning in Munsey Park is dependent on the positioning of those neighboring it in Flower Hill. Should the planned positioning for those nodes change, the positioning of Munsey Park’s might have to change too, Frederick said.
“We may end up having to come back to you and say we don’t need this node anymore or we have to move it somewhere else,” he said. “Now it’s in conflict with the adjacent node.”