Manorhaven residents spent much of Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting demanding that the village take action on cell nodes and a Manhasset Isle apartment building, while Mayor Jim Avena repeatedly answered back that there was little the board could do about either.
The large turnout for the October meeting was spurred by flyers sent out over a four-story apartment building proposed for the former Dejana Industries property on Manhasset Isle. But the residents were also made aware of the issue of cell nodes in the village due to a presentation by Pattie Woods, the co-founder of the Port Washington-based Grassroots Environmental Education.
“I didn’t think I’d be speaking to a large group of people,” Woods said.
Woods explained that telecommunication companies are looking to upgrade their wireless networks to 5G. To reach this higher speed, they have begun installing cell nodes — ranging in size from pizza boxes to small refrigerators — in certain parts of the country, including Long Island.
“One of the problems with this wireless, microwave technology, just in general, is that we are not looking at the human health effects at all,” Woods said.
She said the wireless waves could affect those with health conditions and brain development in children, the latter of which led to some European schools to ban wi-fi.
But due to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, only the FCC could stop the cell nodes installation. Even as residents called on the village to act, Avena and Woods said that was mostly out of Manorhaven’s hands.
She did say that village could control their placement to some extent for aesthetic purposes or to keep them off historic properties.
“You do have some leniency,” she said.
Woods recommended that residents contact Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and other members of Congress to demand action on the issue.
The second issue discussed was the proposed apartment building, which would be built on a 26,000-square-foot property between Yennicock Avenue and Secatoag Avenue.
The property would consist of two, four-story structures, each containing nine apartments and two commercial units.
Prior to the meeting, flyers and emails from groups like the Manorhaven Action Committee and Manorhaven Women Against Corruption circulated around the village, encouraging residents to attend the meeting. They said the new structure would make the tightly packed village even more crowded and would open up other parcels for development.
“Any precedent granted now will have a ripple effect on [the 11-acre Thypin Steel lot],” one flyer read.
Avena opened the public comment by slamming the flyers.
“The flyers go around the village unsigned with no name… that’s a cowardly attitude,” he said. “Sign your name.”
He also addressed some of the claims, saying his administrations was not involved in dismissing violations against Dejana Industries.
The company was owned until early this year by Peter Dejana, who owns the lot where the apartment buildings are proposed to be built. Avena is the grant administrator for the Dejana Foundation but said that would not have an effect on the proposal.
“He is not my boss regarding the government,” he said. “I’m getting sick and tired of people bringing this up.”
Caroline DuBois, the acting secretary for the Manorhaven Action Committee, said the proposal was “out of keeping with what’s going on” in other buildings on Manhasset Isle and should be revoked.
If it was approved, she warned, other Dejana properties and Thypin Steel would become high-density projects.
Avena repeatedly stressed that approval was in the hands of the Zoning Board of Appeals. While he appointed its members, he said they were an independent board.
Requests for the Board of Trustees to get involved with the project — such as a demand for an impact study in the village — were met with heated exchanges, particularly between Avena and former Trustee Lucretia Steele.
Residents will have the opportunity to speak with the BZA at the board’s next meeting, to be held Nov. 13 at the Knights of Columbus building on Manorhaven Boulevard.
The board passed — after a few minutes of public comment — a local law increasing traffic fines in the village. The board had explained in past meetings that the village had gone years with an increase and said the reason for the jump in snow emergency fines was to better ensure compliance when the village is hit by storms.
The board also authorized notices for a bid to finish the final phase of the Morgan’s Dock project.
“This is it — we’ll get the money and finish it,” Avena said.
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.