Opposition to cell tower at village meeting

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Opponents of a plan to install a cellphone tower at Gilbert Park in Brightwaters cited health, safety and financial concerns during a packed meeting Monday night of the village's board of trustees.

More than 100 residents packed village hall in their first opportunity to speak publicly before the board about the plan, which village officials began considering in July as a revenue generator.

Residents decried the proposed tower, saying it would hurt property values and cited medical studies purporting to show a correlation between the towers and increased cancer rates.

"I appreciate you guys looking for new sources of revenue for the village," said Patrick Fawcett, 46, who lives near the proposed tower site. "But if one person gets killed -- as far as I can tell -- that tower's not worth it."

Mayor Joseph A. McNulty reiterated past statements, saying the trustees are reviewing the three proposals they have received.

"The cellphone tower is a concept, an idea," said McNulty, who added that when he first heard about the possible financial windfall, he "had dollar signs in my eyes."

Village officials, who are considering proposals from Elite Towers, North Shore Tower Inc. and Suffolk Wireless Llc, have estimated the proposed 100-foot tower could generate up to $12 million in revenues for the village over 50 years.

The planning board intends to discuss the proposals at its Oct. 11 meeting.

Andrew J. Campanelli, a Merrick-based attorney, said last night that he has been retained by a large group of village residents to represent their interests during the village board's process.

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Campanelli, who has fought against the installation of cellphone towers in communities nationwide, said he plans to reach out to the planning board to "educate" them about the dangers he says are associated with the towers. He also said he plans to file a public records request to view the proposals, which village officials have refused to release.

Ila Balchaitis, a 25-year village resident, called the tower a "monstrosity."

"I don't want to live here anymore if we have this, and it breaks my heart to say that," she said. "The people of the village don't want this."

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