Flower Hill resident submits opposition to proposed cell node

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Flower Hill village board held its third public hearing on its 18 cell node applications. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

A Flower Hill resident submitted a memorandum opposing one of the 18 cell nodes proposed in the village at Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting. 

Michael and Lynn Koufakis recently paid $30,000 for the relocation of a PSEG utility pole from their property to improve the aesthetics. Shortly after, village applications for cell nodes were submitted that proposed constructing a pole in the newly vacant spot, according to attorney Andrew Campanelli of Merrick. 

“If node 48 goes in,” Campanelli said, “ExeNet will undo what they just paid $30,000 to correct.” 

ExteNet, an infrastructure provider contracted by Verizon, has submitted applications for small cell facilities in municipalities across the country, including Flower Hill, Plandome and Lake Success. The cell facilities will be used by Verizon to deploy better 4G data service. 

Many Flower Hill residents have urged the board to deny the applications outright despite potential legal consequences.

Flower Hill resident Suzanne Mills said no matter what the risk is, including litigation, the village trustees “are in a unique position to protect us all.” 

“At a minimum is my hope is that you say no to the placement of these cell antennas on private property or a few feet away from private property,” she said.

But she said her real hope is that the village will follow suit with Greendale, Wisconsin, which rejected small cell facilities completely. 

The Village of Lake Success denied nine of 13 cell node applications and was sued by ExteNet earlier this month for being a barrier to entry. 

Deputy Mayor Brian Herrington said the village is trying to avoid being a barrier to entry and losing the bargaining power the board currently has with ExteNet. 

He said he still hasn’t seen an example where a community has prevented small cell facilities completely. 

Mayor Robert McNamara said, “If talks go further now, we could get better placement of poles or whatever it might be.” 

Chris Fischer of Cuddy and Feder LLP, the firm representing ExteNet, requested that the village board close public comment at its next meeting on Aug. 5 and then allow written submissions to the record for two weeks. 

He said ExteNet is also seeking some specificity on when it can expect a decision on its pending applications. 

Mills said she is aware of many residents who are unaware of the hearings because they were not notified by certified mail. 

She asked that ExteNet send out another mail notification prior to the next hearing, which some members of the board agreed would be appropriate. 

Fischer said that he is sure his client would be happy to send out a notification by regular mail, not by certified mail as had been required of the first mailing. 

Not only did residents raise their voices at the meeting, but a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) attended and read a letter the congressman sent to the FCC earlier this year requesting the data used by the agency to set regulations for wireless facilities. 

Village Clerk Ronnie Shatzkamer said Suozzi’s office has been very supportive of the board’s position on the cell facilities. 

CityScape, a consultant contracted by Flower Hill for the proposed cell facilities, provided the board with a review of ExteNet’s application. 

Susan Rabold of CityScape said the applicant has yet to show why the village’s prioritized locations as set forth in the village code are not suitable for the small cell facilities. 

ExteNet has also not submitted a description of anticipated maintenance needs and materials to help address aesthetic and neighborhood impact mitigation. 

The consultant suggested the board consider when making its decision that four of the 18 proposed nodes are in the Stonytown Road right-of-way where there are utility poles. The rest of the proposed nodes are situated in local residential street rights-of-way where there are no utility power lines or street lights. 

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