By Ed Townsend
LIVINGSTON MANOR July 9, 2002 Opponents and supporters of a 100-foot-tall Independent Wireless One (Sprint) cell phone tower on property owned by Fred and Judy Emery (Emery Auto Body) on White Roe Lake Road offered contrasting opinions at the Town of Rockland Planning Board public hearing last Wednesday night.
Although the board ultimately approved the tower, 90 minutes of heated discussion preceded that vote.
Seth Mandelbaum, an attorney with the Manhattan-Westchester law firm of Snyder & Snyder, representing Independent Wireless One, said that the Emery property location complies with all zoning issues, and there are no viable alternative sites.
Attorney Mandelbaum noted that the proposed tower would be a state-of-the-art tree-type structure which will blend in with surrounding vegetation and will have no impact on surrounding properties. This is the recommendation of Mr. [Alan] Sorensen, chairman of the Sullivan County Planning Board.
Discussion was held on two other sites Independent Wireless One had looked at, but engineering studies declared that these sites would not give a direct signal (line-of-sight) to downtown Livingston Manor or Route 17.
Mandelbaum asked the board for approval, saying, Since November 2000 we have worked with the community, and we meet all criteria that the town board has asked for.
Bunny Delgado, who along with husband and Liberty chiropractor Dr. Jorge Delgado, lives on 118 acres above the proposed site, spoke in opposition to the tower, saying that the structure would directly impact their property.
We will be bombarded by radiation, she remarked, and my family will truly be in harms way.
She stated that her concerns had been given no consideration by Independent Wireless One.
Delgado claimed direct intimidation against us this project will have a negative visual impact for us, and this will turn our world upside down.
She added, The planning board is treating us as enemies, the tower will decrease property value, this is not the best site for the tower, this has turned neighbor against neighbor, and I request you table your decision and obtain a radiation test by a third party.
Attorney Mandelbaum stated that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has regulations in place regarding radiation and that a law passed in January requires an annual emissions test at each site by the FCC. The FCC says scientific evidence points to a lack of harm at the ground level from tower-mounted cell phone antennas, but Delgado indicated their home is level with the top of the proposed tower.
Dr. Delgado displayed numerous photos he had taken, and he claimed the tower would be seen from various locations around the Livingston Manor community. He told the crowd that the project will impede our scenic value.
In regards to petitions submitted to the planning board both in support and opposition to the project, board member Roger Lynker indicated he did not place much support in petitions and that, in his discussions and travels throughout the town, I have received public support of this project.
Pete Feinberg urged selection of another site that would be less invasive. Gary Reisner said, Find another location, while Fred Emery noted that a lot has been said that is not true, and Gary Carlson said he had no problem with the site it complies with the law and is a good site.
Livingston Manor attorney Sue Keiser offered general discussion about the proposed tower being within the Catskill Park and questioned the financial aspect of Sprint. Mandelbaum answered, We are financially viable and will post whatever bond is necessary.
The project will take two months to construct, five new jobs will be created as a result, and it has been determined by officials that the project will have a small to modest impact.
Immediately following the closing of the hour and a half public hearing held before a nearly packed town meeting hall, the Town of Rockland Planning Board voted unanimously on a resolution of negative declaration regarding environmental impacts and in support of the construction of the Stealth tree-style cell tower.