Following a news conference on Wolver Hollow Road in Glen Head on Tuesday, the Oyster Bay Town Board unanimously approved an ordinance that restricts cell phone transmission equipment from being installed near homes. The measure requires cellular companies to obtain building permits from the Department of Planning and Development, and in some cases they will also need a special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals before starting any installation work.
“No one wants to look out their window and see this kind of equipment near their property,” said Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. “This obviously is ugly, it’s intrusive, and we don’t want this near our residents. We’re proud to be on the cutting edge of new legislation to stop the ability of telecommunication companies to put these devices near homes.”
The town is currently facing a federal lawsuit filed by Crown Castle NG East LLC, a company based in Texas, on the heels of Saladino’s decision in May to revoke the company’s permits to install cell phone equipment in residential areas.
“It should not be our residents’ responsibility to shoulder the burden of these intrusive devices,” said Councilwoman Michelle Johnson. “The town’s new ordinance will establish stricter guidelines as to where this equipment can be placed.”
Dr. Marc Herman, a Woodbury dentist and a Democratic candidate for town supervisor, said that the ordinance should have been introduced months ago. Herman, who is also president of the Gates-Ridge Civic Association in Woodbury, said that residents contacted him to complain about the cell phone equipment that was installed.
“The problem is that the horse is already out of the barn,” Herman said. “This [ordinance] will possibly protect people in the future. It does nothing for the 22 devices that are already out there. This shows that government has to be responsive at the beginning and not at the end, when [people] start yelling and screaming.”
Herman also said that it was the town that had issued permits to Crown Castle NG East LLC earlier this year to install the devices. Saladino said he was unsure when the town issued the permits. Asked about Herman’s comments, he described them as “pure politics,” and insisted that the town’s only concern is to represent its residents.
“We’re taking the reins here, and ensuring that this national problem finds a solution, and quite frankly, we’re not here to hurt the residents with politics,” Saladino said. “We’re not going to take a backseat on this issue. Our main responsibility is to protect our residents, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Herman agreed that it is the town’s responsibility to protect its residents, but added that he believed it is not doing so.