Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

THIS IS THE approximate height and location of a proposed cell tower near Callicoon, as seen looking southeastward from the intersection of Main Street with the Callicoon railroad crossing. This image is the Democrat’s version of a similar photo taken by Erdman, Anthony and Associates of Troy on behalf of SBA Properties of Albany, which wants to build the tower. The photo is for visual reference only, as weather, seasonal changes, sunlight conditions and the location of the viewer would affect the tower’s appearance.

Cell Towers Now
An Issue in Delaware

By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON — April 24, 2001 – Is the price of “progress” worth having a cell tower in your backyard?
A lot of local folks don’t think so. While nobody’s really trying to stop progress itself, several residents in an area targeted for cell towers think their presence will wreck the pristine beauty of the Delaware River valley.
One of the most recent areas to be hit by companies scrambling to lease land for the erection of cell towers is the hamlet of Callicoon.
A couple of weeks ago, residents along Viaduct Road were surprised to discover that a cell tower company called SBA Properties was looking at land on the hill above their properties as a site for a 180-foot-high cell tower.
News followed that Joe DeFalco, owner of the Top of the World Estates off Route 97 near the Grover Hermann division of Community General Hospital, made application on March 26 to the Town of Delaware for a special use permit for the purpose of building a cell tower on a 13.2-acre parcel of land on his estates along Deer Run Road.
Spencer Preiser and his wife Justine Grabowski-Preiser, moved to the area almost four years ago from Brooklyn and Queens in search of a more tranquil way of life.
As winter started to release its icy grasp on the region, Spencer Preiser was out along the edge of Viaduct Road chipping away at the lingering snow.
A car pulled up, and its occupants asked him if he knew the location of land for sale where “a cell tower was going up,” said Justine Grabowski-Preiser.
“When I heard that, my antenna went up,” she said. “My immediate thought was concern . . . we’re dealing with unknowns here.”
She went to a public meeting in Eldred about proposed cell towers further downstream to learn more about the situation. That trip was followed by a call to James Scheutzow, Town of Delaware building inspector, who told her the town’s zoning board had recently received two proposals to erect cell towers in the area.
Next, Grabowski-Preiser went over to Freda Realty, where “they sort of reluctantly” told her that the owners of a large parcel of land for sale on top of the hill (reportedly along Froelich Road) had recently withdrawn several acres from the size of their property on the market.
“He kind of said it was up to me to draw my own conclusions,” she added.
The site is reportedly owned by Joe and June Disert of Albuquerque, NM. At one time, they owned considerable property in the area but have sold off a large percentage of their holdings.
Grabowski-Preiser said that several residents along Viaduct Road have refused offers to sell/lease their property to cell tower companies.
“I think it’s sort of contradictory,” she said. “This area is getting cell crazy . . . everytime we open up the paper, especially the Sullivan County Democrat, we read about the Sullivan Renaissance and all these things to improve tourism and bring people to town . . . and yet we’re going to have a proliferation of cell towers hovering all over the place. I know it’s progress, but are we going to start looking like an oilfield?”
Phyllis and Hermann Bilick live right next door to the Preisers on Viaduct Road. They have lived in their comfortable country home for close to 17 years.
“I heard about it by accident,” said Phyllis Bilick of the cell towers coming to town. “They shouldn’t be so close to residential areas.”
Fran Hepburn has lived on Viaduct Road for about 13 years. She joined her neighbors in expressing concern about the proposed cell towers.
“I feel it’s such short notice,” said Hepburn. “We only found out about this two weeks ago. . . . I’d like to see a more balanced approach . . . with the town perhaps considering a moratorium.”
According to Hepburn, she thinks more thought should be given to erecting cell towers in an area that has been identified as a proposed scenic byway along the Delaware River.
“They don’t have to be sticking up in the middle of a beautiful area that we want to promote,” she said.

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