Northport residents want cell pole removed

A new pole for cellular service equipment erected A new pole for cellular service equipment erected in downtown Northport at the intersection of Main Street and Laurel Ave. (March 24, 2013) Photo by Steve Pfost Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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A new pole for cellular service equipment erected in downtown Northport has raised the ire of village officials and residents, who want the pole taken down.

The pole at the intersection of Main Street and Laurel Avenue is one of two new poles put in place by Crown Castle NG East Inc., which was granted a building permit by the village in November to do the work.

Northport village attorney James Matthews now says the permit should not have been issued because Crown Castle was supposed to come back to the zoning board of appeals for final approval on locations for the equipment.

An attorney for the College Point-based telecommunications company asserted at a meeting last week with the village zoning board and its board of trustees that Crown Castle did nothing wrong.

Joshua Trauner, the company's government relations counsel, said he found "no fault at how we proceeded. . . . I was told this board was notified before we proceeded" about the pole locations.

"When the village signed off on these new locations and issued a permit for us to build those locations, I think my company has the right to rely on validly issued building permits," he said.

Last March, the zoning board approved an application from NextG Networks of NY Inc. -- which later was purchased by Crown Castle -- to "install" cellular equipment in the village, but did not OK the locations requested, village documents show. Officials said last week that the company was supposed to come back to the zoning board to discuss locations before installing anything.

The village issued a building permit on Nov. 1 to Crown Castle, granting permission to install "utility poles and associated telecommunications equipment as per ZBA approval."

Zoning board of appeals chairman Andrew Cangemi said at the meeting that the board was told initially the telecommunications equipment would be placed on existing poles.

Trauner said none of the existing available poles were suitable for attachment, because they had high-tension, high-voltage electrical wires on them or were owned by the Long Island Power Authority, with which NextG did not have an attachment agreement. He said the village was told "there were no suitable poles in the very limited area that we were being limited to."

Crown Castle does have an agreement to attach equipment to LIPA poles, he said.

The issue was not resolved during last week's meeting.

"You've got a pole in a place that we don't like. . . . What are you going to do about it?" village trustee Thomas Kehoe said to Trauner.

Both sides agreed to keep talking.

"We are open to working with the village on some sort of resolution on this," Trauner said. "We want to be a good partner with the village."

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