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Proposed cellphone tower near Lindenhurst LIRR station draws residents' ire

Island Towers LLC of West Babylon is proposing

Island Towers LLC of West Babylon is proposing a 125-foot-tall cellphone tower at East John Street and Heling Boulevard in Lindenhurst. The village planning board is to take up the issue Thursday. This sign is from June 7, 2011. Credit: Alexi Knock

A proposed cellphone tower near the Lindenhurst Long Island Rail Road station is raising the ire of nearby residents.

Island Towers LLC, of West Babylon, is proposing a 125-foot-tall tower on a village-owned parking lot at the corner of East John Street and Heling Boulevard, and the Lindenhurst planning board will take up the issue Thursday night.

Emily Aquino, 38, whose backyard abuts the parking lot, said she is worried about potential increased cancer risks for her four children and for those who attend an elementary school less than a half-mile away.

"It's dangerous and shouldn't be near anyone with kids," said Aquino, who in January started a "No cellphone tower in Lindenhurst" Facebook page. Nearly 300 people have liked the page.

Aquino said health concerns and the "unsightly" appearance of the tower would lower the value of her home and nearby properties.

Tower opponents cite studies abroad that show increased cancer risks, but the American Cancer Society reports on its website that "there is very little evidence to support" a higher risk for cancer or other health problems associated with living near a cellphone tower. The Federal Communications Commission and World Health Organization also downplay health concerns.

Jen Mackie Aulino, 35, who lives about 900 feet from the proposed tower with her two children and her parents, said there's too much uncertainty about cancer risks to build towers so close to where kids live and attend school. "Why take a chance?" she asked.

Cell tower proposals have sparked opposition on Long Island in recent years, as phone companies seek broader coverage areas and faster speeds, and residents raise health, safety, aesthetic and property value concerns.

Planning board member Richard Green said there are only four homes within 500 feet of the site.

"I really don't feel it's going to do any harm to others, especially where it's located," Green said, noting that he hasn't decided whether to support the proposal.

Island Towers and the village have yet to negotiate a fee for use of the site, said Mayor Thomas Brennan, who also is undecided about the issue. He said he wants to consult with the village attorney to find out whether the village would have the legal right to reject the tower.

Nate Lamson, co-owner of Island Towers, said in an interview that the structure would be a 3-foot-diameter pole, probably painted sky blue, that would be smooth, with the antennas inside. Lindenhurst Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Cullinane said the village prohibits protruding antennas without a zoning variance. The project is the first for Island Towers, which was formed in 2013.

The plan is for Island Towers to partner with cellular providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Cullinane said. An AT&T spokeswoman said the company hasn't committed to leasing the tower.

Verizon spokesman Andrew Testa said in an email that the company is "not committed, but we fully intend to go on the site." The tower would result in improved data speeds for customers, he said.

The village planning board is holding a public hearing on the proposal at 7 p.m. Thursday at village hall.

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