North Hempstead double pole debate draws critics, proponents

Double poles align Maple Street in Manhasset on Double poles align Maple Street in Manhasset on Thursday, June 26, 2014. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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A North Hempstead proposal to require utilities to remove decommissioned poles has drawn opposition from companies but support from public officials and linemen charged with removing the poles.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said at a hearing Tuesday night that the action is a "direct reaction" to PSEG Long Island's placement earlier this year of about 200 80-foot-poles between Great Neck and Port Washington.

The poles are next to poles half as tall, stretching 5 miles. PSEG has vowed to coordinate the removal of the old poles by year's end.

The law would require the utility company to remove a double pole from town roads and rights-of-way within 60 days of installation of a new pole. Violators would face a $500 fine for the first offense, and $1,000 for the second.

Suffolk County and Babylon and Brookhaven towns have similar laws.

"We have far too many double poles throughout our town," Bosworth said.

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Tom Benedetto, executive vice president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1104, which represents Verizon workers in Nassau County, supports the law. "It's work here on Long Island, which keeps our people on Long Island," he told the town board.

Bosworth said town officials have met with officials from PSEG, Verizon and Cablevision, which owns Newsday. Cablevision does not own poles but leases the space for equipment.

A representative from Verizon wrote in a letter to the town that North Hempstead "does not have authority to enact the Draft Ordinance . . ." and that it "will, inevitably, chill the utility companies' ability to communicate openly with the Town."

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