Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino on Thursday said the town is drafting a new ordinance to limit the installation of cellphone antennas and is exploring legal ways to get about two dozen of them removed from residents’ properties.
“We will make sure our voice is heard as we stand in lockstep with our residents to protect their rights and protect our communities,” Saladino said.
Saladino spoke on the street in front of a 30-foot-high antenna that was recently installed on the public right of way of Woodbury resident Denise Tufano’s front lawn. Tufano and others had held a news conference on the site to complain about the aesthetic, property-value and possible health effects of the antennas and urge the town to take action.
The antennas, part of the Verizon Wireless network, are called “small cells” and are installed closer to users to improve coverage, the company said in a statement.
Saladino found out about the news conference and, several minutes after it ended, arrived with other town officials to talk to reporters and residents.
One of the speakers and organizers of the news conference was Democratic supervisor candidate Dr. Marc Herman. Saladino, a Republican, and Herman accused each other of playing politics with the issue.
Herman said he was acting not as a candidate but as president of the Gates Ridge Civic Association in Woodbury. He asked why action hadn’t been taken earlier and why notice wasn’t given to residents of their installation.
Saladino, who took office Jan. 31, said he and town officials have been looking into residents’ complaints about the antennas for weeks. He announced at Tuesday’s board meeting that the town had rescinded seven permits for antennas.
Saladino said Thursday that the antennas should not be placed in residential neighborhoods and he urged the Federal Communications Commission to conduct radio-frequency testing near the devices, turn off any that are currently functioning, and study the health effects of antennas.
Deputy Town Attorney Matthew Rozea said a federal law limits municipal restrictions on cell phone equipment. Saladino called on Congress to change the law “to give local municipalities the right to determine where these go.”
Vicki Kramer, who has an antenna next to her Woodbury driveway, said she is worried about her two teenagers and other neighborhood kids, especially with the long-term health risks of the antennas not known.