Monday, September 24, 2007

The Phone Rings Off The Hook In Franklin Square

Local Activists Ask Residents To Answer The Call

With all of the unsightly cell phone towers around -- posing a threat to property values, if not our health -- we're amazed that we can't get calls transmitted directly into our heads. Who needs the cell phone anymore.

Franklin Square residents have been fighting the construction of yet another ugly cell phone tower [this one to be thinly disguised as a god-awful, humungous flagplole], with little or no help from local government (read as, the Town of Hempstead -- what else), which has essentially thrown up its hands under the good old "federal pre-emption" doctrine.

Sure, local politicos have attended rallies and posed for photo ops, but we have to ask, whose Franklin Square is it anyway.

If the folks in Franklin Square don't want a cell phone tower, then, for goodness sake, they shouldn't have a cell phone tower. Period!

Whose community is it it, anyway?
- - -
From the
Three Village Times:


The fight against T-Mobile is not over! As most of you know, T-Mobile has a variance application before the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning & Appeals to construct a 65-foot high cell tower in front of the Franklin Bridge Centre Shopping Plaza at 340 Dogwood Avenue, Franklin Square. A hearing was held on September 28, 2006 and another hearing is anticipated some time this November. A Cell Tower Community Update Meeting is going to be held on October 2, 2007 at the Franklin Square Public Library at 7 p.m. All are urged to attend.

At the September 28, 2006 hearing, T-Mobile presented their case to the zoning board. Based upon their "Drive Test," T-Mobile claimed that there is a significant gap in coverage in the four-tenths of a mile area to be served by the proposed cell tower. They also introduced a Visual Impact Study claiming that the proposed 65-foot high cell tower would not have a negative visual impact on the community.
We raised issues as to their "Drive Test." T-Mobile concluded that the subject area had a significant gap in coverage, but did not provide the underlying data supporting their conclusions. The zoning board "ordered" T-Mobile to provide us with their underlying data; to date, they have failed to do so. We raised the fact that T-Mobile's consumer website showed coverage in the area and our expert testified that he made 100 T-Mobile cell calls in the area with all 100 calls going through crystal clear.

We also objected to T-Mobile's Visual Impact Study. It is our contention that their study is defective because it was performed while leaves were still on the trees and without prior written notice to the zoning board. Our contentions were based upon case law.At the September 28, 2006 hearing, T-Mobile closed their case after nearly eight hours of testimony. Incredibly, in April 2007, T-Mobile did a "do-over" by conducting a second "leaf-off" impact study with prior written notice to the board. We vehemently objected to their second study sending a letter to the zoning board. How many chances should T-Mobile get, especially after they rested their case? This issue will be decided at the next hearing.

Over the past year, many residents have come up to me and asked, "Can health concerns about the cell tower prevent it from going up?" According to the law, as long as the emission levels are within federal guidelines, health is not a defense. However, from a personal level, everyone has the right to be concerned. In an April 23, 2007 article, the London Times reported that a quarter of a 30 member staff at a school within sight of a 90' cell tower developed tumors. The cell tower was installed 15 years ago and was eventually taken down by the cell carrier after protests from community residents. Until it is 100 percent certain that there is no link between cell towers and health, why should we take a chance? From a potential health impact, are we better off with or without a cell tower? The proposed tower does not belong in the middle of a residential neighborhood or near schools.

It is obvious that T-Mobile is going to fight us to the very end. If we defeat T-Mobile, our case could possibly be a "difference maker" in the telecommunications industry, setting forth the blueprint for beating a cell carrier. The publicity could be extensive. We have come too far and too long to give up now. We must continue the fight.

Remember, our case is different from the recent church variance hearing. We are governed by Federal Law and, therefore, must establish evidence of record to prevail. Therefore, it is imperative that we bring back our expert. Also, in the church case, they withdrew their application. Despite community opposition, T-Mobile is not withdrawing.

We have come a long way. It would be foolhardy to quit now. Let's give them a fight to the finish. Thanks again for everyone's support.

Say no to T-Mobile.

Franklin Square United Neighborhood Association, Inc.

Ronald Lipsky, President

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