Thomas and Elke Hoy speak about the water tower near...

Thomas and Elke Hoy speak about the water tower near their Bayville home. They have filed a lawsuit to have them removed. (Jan. 11, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Bayville couple filed a lawsuit Monday against the village, saying their civil rights were violated because Bayville allowed cell-phone antennas to be placed on the village's water tower.

The couple's home, at 24 Cat Hollow Rd., and a school on Godfrey Avenue are located near the water tower, which is topped by more than 50 cell-phone antennas from several cell phone companies. The companies pay the village more than $200,000 a year to mount the antennas.

Andrew Campanelli, of Garden City, the attorney for Thomas and Elke Hoy, said the suit is based on two assertions that the village unconstitutionally reduced the value of the Hoys' home between 3 to 5 percent by allowing the installation of the antennas.

The first claim is that the village violated the agreement on which the land was donated to the village in the 1950s, Campanelli said. That agreement provides that the land could not be used for any commercial purpose, according to Campanelli.

Second, Campanelli said the village is not enforcing the provisions of the federal Telecommunications Act, which allows a village to consider restrictive land-use agreements in order to block the installation of cell-phone antennas.

Anthony Sabino of Bethpage, the attorney for the village, said the installation of the antennas does not violate the agreement or federal law.

The couple in the civil suit, filed in federal District Court in Central Islip, also said that the rate of cancer among students and teaching personnel at Bayville Elementary School adjoining the tower is much higher than normal, resulting in illness among 30 percent of school's staff.

Campanelli said he had no direct scientific proof to support the relationship between alleged cancer rates and radiation from the cell-phone antennas, saying, "I'm not a scientist, just a lawyer."

Anna Hunderfund, superintendent of the Locust Valley School District, which includes Bayville, said in a written statement that a consulting firm hired by the district "concluded that the cell phone tower posed no significant health risks to students or staff . . . there is no truth to any claims that 30 percent of our students or staff have become ill as a result of the location of the cell phone tower."

The American Cancer Society has said there is no known link between cell towers and an increased cancer risk in humans.

With Ann Givens, Chau Lam and Will Van Sant

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