Proposed cell tower gets new lease

Despite stalled talks, vigorous option, Pine Island Fire Department and AT&T extend land contract for a year


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos




— The Pine Island Fire District's Board of Commissioners has agreed to extend AT&T's lease on a prospective 150-foot cell phone tower site at the firehouse through May 2015.

The fire commissioners voted 3-1 on July 10 to grant New Cingular Wireless's request to extend its lease for a second year. Approval included a request for AT&T subsidiary New Cingular Wireless to make a $20,000 "initial payment" to the PIFD's "escrow fund."

The lease extension comes despite a standstill in negotiations between the district and New Cingular Wireless, which approached the PIFD last year with a proposal to erect a 150-foot cell phone tower in a fenced complex it will lease at the firehouse. They signed a two-year lease with the district last May.

The lease agreement would generate anywhere from $24,000 to $96,000 a year in rental income for the district, which borrowed $3 million in a 30-year bond in 2008 to build its firehouse.

The proposed cell phone tower has been vigorously opposed by many Pine Island residents - especially those who live in the immediate vicinity of the Pulaski Highway/County Route 1 crossroads - who cite concerns about health effects from exposure to cell tower radio frequency (RF) waves on the 25 children who live within 300 yards of the firehouse, devalued home values and the visual blemish of a 150-foot pole looming above the Black Dirt hamlet.

With the firehouse proposal hotly contested and negotiations stalled with the fire district, AT&T submitted a proposal to the Warwick Valley School District to build a 120-foot tall cell phone tower at Pine Island Elementary School, which has been closed for several years.

However, in late June, the Warwick Valley School District Board of Education opted to discontinue discussions with the telecom giant during a straw poll conducted after a 20-minute presentation by AT&T and before fielding comments from nine area residents who all opposed the proposal.

The school board's withdrawal from cell tower discussions essentially put the ball back in the PIFD's court.

Warwick Town Superintendent Michael Sweeton said last week the town board is still waiting for the PIFD to present its justifications for being declared "lead agency" in the state-mandated environmental study of the cell tower proposal.

Usually, a proposed freestanding cellular tower would need to be approved by the Town Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). But because the fire district is a government agency, it may not be subject to the town's land use laws if it can answer a nine-point test - the "Monroe Test" - developed by the state's Supreme Court to determine the viability of an entity's jurisdiction.

Sweeton said the PIFD has not provided the town with its responses to the "Monroe Test."

- John Haughey

Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Orange County to host free showing of '12 Strong' for veterans on Jan. 24 at Monroe cinema
— Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Veterans Service Agency Director Christian Farrell...
Read more »
Image

Golden Hill Elementary School to hold registration information meeting on Jan. 23
FLORIDA — Kindergarten registration information meetings will be held Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Golden Hill Elementary School at 9 a.m. and...
Read more »
Image

Ride!
— The Orange County Bicycle Club's charity work again helped to make the recent holiday season a happy one for disadvantaged...
Read more »
Image

Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce to host winter mixer at Silvio's Villa
— Next Thursday evening, Jan. 25, the Muto family of Silvio's Villa Ristorante & Martini Bar at 274 Route 94 South in Warwick...
Read more »
Image

VIDEOS



* indicates required
Community Newspapers


MOST READ

Obituaries
Dr. Nicholas J. Gatto
  • Jan 12, 2018
Obituaries
Lisa Antonette Posca
  • Jan 12, 2018
Local News
WV school community mourns a loss
  • Jan 12, 2018

MOST COMMENTED



Warwick, NY