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Long IslandNassau

About 200 residents attend Wantagh wireless meeting

Town of Hempstead citizens band together to oppose

Town of Hempstead citizens band together to oppose the installation of cell towers in residential neighborhoods at Wantagh High School. (August 16, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Jessica Rotkiewicz

Roughly 200 people gathered at the Wantagh High School auditorium Monday night to voice their concerns about the installation of wireless communications equipment in their neighborhood.

Taking a sometimes combative tone, residents peppered officials with appeals to more rigorously oversee the activities of wireless companies.

Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), attorney Andrew Campanelli, who has represented residents in their fights with telecommunications companies, Hempstead attorney Charles Kovit, and Richard Comi, a consultant with the Town of Hempstead, recently hired to strengthen its municipal code regarding siting wireless equipment were part of the meeting.

"Let me say right up front," Comi told the crowd. "The industry doesn't like us. We are aggressive."

Across Long Island, a battle is being waged by residents who want their government to be more active in scrutinizing where companies are putting their cell towers.

Municipalities like Hempstead often cite the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act as limiting what they can do.

Comi and Campanelli acknowledged the act restricts governments from citing health concerns to deny siting of wireless infrastructure.

Kovit said he hopes to soon have a draft of the town's new ordinance regarding wireless infrastructure and added the town is to vote on it at a hearing Dec. 21. He said the new code would seek to keep wireless equipment in residential areas at least 1,500 feet from homes.

Claudia Borecky, president of the North Merrick Community Association, said she looked forward to the town releasing the draft to the public.

"We're much further along than we were a year ago," she said.


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