By Rebecca Melnitsky
The Village of Plandome Board of Trustees is seeking guidance and legal representation as a company seeks to install cell nodes in the village.
ExteNet Systems Inc., an Illinois-based company that builds cellphone infrastructure for cellular service providers, has contacted the Town of North Hempstead about installing 66 nodes, or cellphone antennas, within the town. Nine of those nodes would be in Plandome, although some are on the village borders.
“ExteNet had said in their presentation that typically these antenna boxes are anywhere from a quarter mile to a half mile apart,” said Trustee Katie Saville. “The village is only a half square mile.”
The trustees are also concerned that if the village approved construction, more carriers would be added and the antennas would need to expand in size to accommodate them.
On Monday night, the village Board of Trustees met with Albert Tagliaferri from the Yonkers-based Center for Municipal Solutions. According to its website, Center for Municipal Solutions “levels the playing field for communities in their dealings with telecommunications service providers and applicants” by reviewing applications from wireless providers, representing municipalities and helping to revise local ordinances on telecommunications.
“We don’t want these things to be here unless they absolutely need to be,” said Tagliaferri. “Most of the time they can prove it that they need to be. They typically wouldn’t want to invest all of this money to be in an area if it wasn’t going to make money for them.”
He said that companies typically ask for more antennas than they need.
Plandome Manor has hired the organization for services in dealing with ExteNet Systems.
Tagliaferri said his organization would ask to see ExteNet’s reasoning for placement of the proposed nodes, as well as its signal test data and readings. The center would use this information to argue for fewer installed nodes or a different placement, based on an evaluation.
“They just look at it as a signal,” Tagliaferri said of ExteNet. “Where it might be in front of someone’s house, or next to their driveway where they could be a better place.”
As the applicant, ExteNet would pay for Center for Municipal Solutions’ services to the village, or any other consultant.
“I think it makes sense to do this,” said Trustee Andrew Bartels. “Getting a little bit of assistance in this negotiation with someone who has been through it, is to my mind, a good idea.”
In July, the village voted to place a six-month moratorium on the installation of telecommunication facilities, which put the current proposal from ExteNet on hold. The villages of Williston Park, Flower Hill and Plandome Manor have also approved moratoriums on any cell tower or antenna construction in response to the company’s interest in adding nodes across the North Shore.
The trustees discussed looking into other representatives for node negotiations as well. A decision about retaining Center for Municipal Solutions will be made at the village meeting on Monday.
“What’s going to happen here is we will hopefully end up with fewer towers and better locations,” said Bartels. “That’s all we’re going to end up with. We’re not going to get rid of them.”