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Oyster Bay rescinds 7 permits for cell phone repeaters

The town of Oyster Bay government has rescinded seven permits for cell phone repeaters, setting up a potential legal battle over local rights to control where they are installed, town officials announced Tuesday.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino made the announcement at Tuesday’s town board meeting when a town resident complained about a repeater being installed in her front yard within the public right of way commonly referred to as a “utility strip.”

“We’re putting a stop to the permits until this company contacts us and answers our questions and the residents’ questions,” Saladino said in an interview at the meeting. “We’re entirely against this technology being put in front of people’s homes.”

Denise Tufano, 51, from Woodbury, told the board she felt violated when she came home one day last month and found a pole on the edge of her yard.

“I wasn’t even notified,” Tufano said. “I had no idea what it was.”

Tufano said she was concerned about potential health problems from the cell phone repeater and about the effect on her property value.

“I would like it moved,” Tufano said.

“Then that’s what we’re going to demand,” Saladino replied.

Federal laws limit local governments’ ability to restrict the siting of cell phone equipment. Saladino said he wants the Federal Communications Commission to take radiation readings at Tufano’s home and to do a new study on the health effects of cell phone towers.

Town officials said the town had issued 29 permits for the cell phone repeaters for a project that began about three months ago and that 22 had already been installed.

New York City-based Verizon Communications, Inc. did not immediately respond to queries Tuesday and Houston-based Crown Castle International Corp., which town officials said was one of the companies installing them, declined to comment.

The Democratic candidate for town supervisor, Marc Herman, said Saladino had “dropped the ball” on the issue.

“Only when it got media attention did he react,” Herman said in a statement. “This is basic governance and protection of our residents’ health that should have been addressed long ago.”

Saladino said he was acting because it was the right thing to do, not because of the November election.

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