Manorhaven cell tower construction resumes

Residents Joe Giunta and Barbara Mallon, both with

Residents Joe Giunta and Barbara Mallon, both with Stop the Cell Tower, watch as work is resumed on the cell phone tower on Pequot Ave in Manorhaven even though many of the residents do not want it next to their houses. (March 27, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile)

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Construction of a controversial cellphone tower in Manorhaven resumed Tuesday with security guards and police on site.

Giovanna Giunta, a resident who has been fighting the tower location, said a crane arrived about 7:30 a.m. accompanied by private security guards and Nassau County police cars.

"Everyone is upset," said Giunta, who helped organize a protest last weekend against activating the tower. "They pulled up like the Secret Service."

Nassau County police said they decided to escort the workers to ensure there were no problems.

An attorney for the company putting up the tower, AG Towers, of East Islip, could not be reached for comment.

"Their response was to send armed guards there," said North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina DeGiorgio, who has joined other elected officials in requesting that the company move the tower.

In September 2007, Manorhaven approved a 125-foot wireless service communications tower on village property at Pequot Avenue and Sintsink Drive West. The tower is about 31 feet from the nearest home, according to court documents.

After residents expressed concern the tower was too close to houses and about possible health effects, the village issued a stop-work order in 2009 that prevented the company from finishing the project.

In February 2011, AG Towers sued the village in federal court and prevailed when a U.S. District judge in September ordered the village to allow the construction to proceed.

On Friday, village officials wrote a letter to AG Towers asking the company to find a different location for the tower and offering to refund $117,000 the company paid to rent the land for the past three years. "In view of the well-established community opposition to the cell tower, the profound concern shared by virtually every elected official who represents our Village . . . we implore you to investigate and identify an alternative site," the letter stated.

The dispute is one of several around Long Island over cell towers and antennas. While the controversy over their safety has existed for years, no definitive proof of imminent danger has emerged to settle the issue.

Heated opposition to Houston-based Crown Castle's proposal for a network of antennas -- touted as an aesthetically pleasing alternative to towers -- has led to chaotic village trustee board meetings.

Discussion about five proposed antennas in Old Brookville lapsed into shouting Monday night as Trustee Matthew Schamroth appealed for "decorum."

Resident Steve Silverberg called the project a threat to the community's health. Company representatives said the units emit radio frequency no more dangerous than a microwave oven.

A similar scene played out last week at a meeting in Upper Brookville, where Crown Castle is asking to install six units.

Old Brookville and Upper Brookville officials made no decisions and said they are gathering more information.

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