Cell Tower Trouble

A cell tower on top of the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department. (Photo by Caroline Ryan)

On June 28, an anonymous letter was sent out to neighbors in the Roslyn Heights area regarding a cell tower that was recently installed on the roof of the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department.

According to the letter, in 2008, residents in Roslyn Heights fought against the construction of a cell tower at Sunharbor Manor, a rehabilitation center, which is across the street from the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department, and they ultimately won. Concerned residents began calling the Roslyn Village Hall, although they were unable to provide any information regarding the installation. The Town of North Hempstead (TONH) Building Department receives all requests for permits and construction in the villages.

“The health and safety of North Hempstead residents is of paramount importance to town officials,” a statement from the Town of North Hempstead said. “There are many concerns that need to be taken seriously when wireless technology is installed. In fact, in March of this year, the supervisor and town board strongly urged the town’s federal representatives to see to it that local municipalities be given more control over where to permit the installation of wireless technology within the town’s right of way. Currently, there is little or no thought given to the surrounding communities and the telecommunications industry is given free rein by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to do pretty much what it pleases.”

According to the town, the building department issued a cease and desist order to Verizon to stop any further work on the cell towers or operation of the tower pending an inspection by the building department. Currently, the building department has been refused access to inspect the installation.

“We just learned of the cease and desist and are investigating,” a representative from Verizon said in an email. Verizon would not comment further regarding the matter.

The letter went on to encourage residents to call their local government officials to tell them their concerns regarding the installation as well as possible health risks.

“Those living within a quarter mile of cellphone towers are especially at higher risk or health implications including cancer, heart disease and a whole host of other health problems,” stated the letter. “We need your help. All of us have to get involved to get our safe community back from the dangers of cell phone tower radiation.”

The letter also stated that a TriField EMF Meter was used to measure cell phone and cell tower radiation at the location and concluded that the reading was so high that it maxed out the meter. Although according to a statement provided by the town, “since the start of this installation, Verizon has not provided the town with a radio frequency (RF) field report, to determine if the RF exposure is within the FCC guidelines.”
Studies have not yet proven nor denied that radiation emitted by cell phone towers causes cancer or any other health affects.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that “at very high levels, RF energy is dangerous. It can heat the body’s tissues rapidly. However, such high levels are found only near certain equipment, such as powerful long-distance transmitters. Cellphones and wireless networks produce RF, but not at levels that cause significant heating. In addition, RF energy decreases quickly over distance. At ground level, exposure to RF from sources like cellphone towers is usually very low.
Residents who live in the area are concerned about having the cell towers within a residential area. “As a parent of a toddler, it’s very concerning that they would build a cell tower so close to residential homes and an elementary school, which she will one day attend, without informing the community of its affects,” Joshua, a resident of Roslyn Heights said.

“Where is the town feedback to allow this,” said Sharon, a resident of Roslyn. “It should be done with proper permit and regulations. This should be investigated to see the paper trail to see who allowed this without a proper inspection. There are safety concerns [regarding cell] towers. The community should have a say or feedback to what is exposed to us.”

However, not everyone is opposed to the construction of the tower.
“The cell service is often very bad in Roslyn. I welcome the tower,” said Kenneth Eder, a Roslyn Heights resident.

“Due to FCC restrictions relating to cell phone towers, the town attorney in conjunction with outside counsel is reviewing all options available to the town relating to this issue,” said the TONH.

The Roslyn News reached out to the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department numerous times, but did not receive a comment by press time.


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