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Thursday, October 30, 2014
News
Cell tower rejected in Wantagh
Court backs town’s decision against T-Mobile’s plan
Andrew Hackmack/Herald
A federal court has backed a Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals ruling to deny cell towers at Congregation Beth Tikvah, formerly the Farmingdale-Wantagh Jewish Center, on Woodbine Avenue in Wantagh.

A federal court decision halting the construction of a proposed cell tower complex is being hailed as a major victory for Wantagh residents who have been fighting the plan for years.

In 2010, the Town of Hempstead’s Board of Appeals rejected T-Mobile’s proposal to install six cell phone towers on the roof of the Farmingdale-Wantagh Jewish Center, now Congregation Beth Tikvah, on Woodbine Avenue. On July 23, the decision was affirmed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

“We’re very grateful that this decision came down,” said Pam Dempsey, co-president of the Wantagh Civic Association. “It would have been extremely unsightly, because the temple backs up to a residential neighborhood. We take a lot of pride in our neighborhood.”

Dempsey said that the towers would have been only 50 to 75 feet away from the homes closest to the temple.

“This is a great victory for the homeowners that don’t have to have these unsightly towers to look at,” added Ella Stevens, president of the Wantagh Seaford Homeowners Association.

T-Mobile, which challenged the Board of Appeals’ decision in court, released a statement saying that it was disappointed with the ruling. “Everyone loses when we halt this progress, since the majority of Americans rely on their wireless service,” said spokeswoman Jane Builder. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue with town officials on ways to bring the critical improvements in public safety, economic vitality and enhanced community connections that Town of Hempstead residents deserve.”

Builder did not say whether T-Mobile would appeal further.

Leaders of Congregation Beth Tikvah say they were satisfied with the ruling. Ray Bazini, the temple president since July 1, said that the cell tower plan was pursued by different leadership with different priorities.

Bazini, who has family in the neighborhood, said he understood the concerns of surrounding homeowners. In the spirit of being a good neighbor, he added, the temple is no longer interested in pursuing this plan, even though it would have benefited financially. “If everyone’s content and happy,” he said, “then we’re happy.”

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