Planning board to review cell tower proposals

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The Brightwaters Planning Board, directed to make a recommendation to the board of trustees on a plan to install a cellphone tower at Gilbert Park, has set up a public hearing next week to let residents vent more on the contentious issue.

Brightwaters Mayor Joseph McNulty asked the planning board to review three competing proposals, which could allow the construction of a 100-foot tower at the park on South Windsor Avenue -- a plan officials say could net the South Shore village as much as $12 million over 50 years.

The planning board meeting -- scheduled for Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. -- follows Monday night's board of trustees meeting during which more than 100 residents packed village hall to voice concerns about the tower's effect on property values, and the health and safety of residents. Residents also visited town hall last week to talk about the topic, but were turned away. They later held a community meeting to consult with a lawyer.

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

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

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"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."

McNulty, who said he initially supported the plan because, "I had dollar signs in my eyes," said he has not studied proposals from Elite Towers, North Shore Tower Inc. and Suffolk Wireless Llc and will wait to hear the planning board's findings before deciding.

"I'll let them do their thing," he said. "I want them to look at the pros and cons on either side. I said, 'Don't rush. Take your time, and do it right.' "

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Andrew J. Campanelli, a Merrick-based attorney, said Monday night that a large group of village residents has retained him to represent them in the matter.

Campanelli, who has fought the installation of cellphone towers nationwide, said he plans to reach out and "educate" the planning board about the dangers he said are associated with the towers. He also said he plans to file a public records request to view the proposals, which village officials have not released.

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