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Settlement lowers number of cell installations in Port Washington

Residents in August protested a plan to install

Residents in August protested a plan to install cell equipment across Port Washington. Credit: Charles Eckert

North Hempstead has reached an agreement with the wireless company that sued the town over the deployment of cellular equipment in Port Washington.

The settlement, which was approved by the town board in a 7-0 vote on Thursday, came four months after a federal judge ruled in favor of Illinois-based ExteNet. In January, the company sued the town for failing to act on the company’s application.

To comply with the court order, the town on July 31 issued the permits ExteNet needed to install the equipment. While the town appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in July, officials said they reached an agreement with ExteNet earlier this month after mediation.

Under the settlement, ExteNet agreed to reduce the number of installments by three from the original 16, eliminating the proposed locations at Carlton Avenue, North Court and Capi Lane.

"What’s in front of us now is not whether we can fight further. We were sued by ExteNet. We lost the suit. We appealed. We lost the appeal," Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. " … Thirteen is better than 16. None would be better than 16. But this is where we are."

In exchange of the reduction in number, the height at two locations — North Plandome Road and Beachway — would be increased to 50 feet and the node at Beachway would be moved farther north.

Town Attorney Leonard Kapsalis said the changes were driven by the engineers who worked on the network.

For months, Port Washington residents have criticized the town’s handling of the application, which was never brought to the board for a hearing. Some raised their concern of the equipment’s health impact and questioned the need for such equipment.

ExteNet representatives, who didn’t response to a request for comment, previously said the installation would improve wireless coverage and capacity.

Lorraine Miller, who lives near one of the future installations, questioned the board on why residents weren’t notified when ExteNet filed its application last fall, to which town officials didn’t give a clear answer.

Town officials reiterated that their hands were tied because federal laws prohibit municipalities from regulating the equipment’s placement based on environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.

"I don’t want to be voting on this, but it’s either 16 or 13," Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte said, urging people to reach out to their representatives in Congress. "They need to change the law because it’s not fair that we have no say."

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