A group of Pound Ridge residents want the town board to defer making decision on a plans by T-Mobile’s for building a cell tower in Scotts Corners until a task force can be established to develop a new strategy for the town’s cell tower placements.
The 29-Acre Preservation Association is leading a group of residents who are expected to make their case for the task force during tonight’s public hearing on T-Mobile’s tower construction.
Association member Melinda Avellino said Pound Ridge needs a committee that can create a town-wide cell service “overlay” and evaluate all “new and existing equipment sites or plans, and ensuring that all application and zoning requirements are met by the applicant.”
“We believe that taking a proactive approach is necessary to ensure the responsible placement of cell service equipment that best protects its citizens,” she said.
Tonight’s hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the town house, gives the board, as well as the public, the opportunity to review and comment on T-Mobile’s application for the special use permit it needs to construct a 130′ tower at the Pound Ridge Lions Club Ambulance headquarters on Westchester Avenue in Scotts Corners.
Aside from engineering and construction details, T-Mobile’s presentation will include an overview of the criteria used to select the ambulance corps location from among the 20-plus sites it considered for the tower — a process that began in 2007.
“We’ve invested three years and a lot of money working with town planners, engineering and building consultants to get this project in front of the public,” said Jane Builder, Senior Manager of External Affairs for T-Mobile’s northeast engineering division. “We’ve been sensitive to the various concerns throughout the entire process, and approval from the board will mean cell service for this part of town is finally close to becoming a reality.”
Tower Location Lacking Consensus
But all time and money spent did not keep the board from voicing concerns over the ambulance corps site at its regular meeting last month. According to Deputy Supervisor Jonathan Powers, those concerns center around the topographical features of the location.
“On the one hand it limits the height of the tower and consequently the amount of service coverage,” Mr. Powers said. “On the other, the location and height of the tower will have a definite visual impact.”
Mr. Powers said the board was concerned enough to request that T-Mobile further explore the possibility of building a tower on an alternative site, on a tract of land owned by Oceanus Navigation, located on the opposite side of Westchester Avenue, near the top of Hemlock Hill Road.
He said the Oceanus Navigation location had been on T-Mobile’s list of possible sites and because the property’s elevation was much higher, it could accommodate a 170′ tower and significantly greater service coverage. The site had been eliminated from consideration because after a year trying, T-Mobile had not been able to secure an agreement to lease the land from its owner.
At the board’s insistence, however, T-Mobile agreed to conduct a balloon visualization test on the property.
The 29-Acre association members present at the meeting reacted by openly challenging the board’s ability to act in the best interests of its constituents.