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Residents wary of proposed cell tower

More than 100 Hempstead residents voiced their concerns Tuesday at a hearing about a proposed new cell phone tower in North Bellmore.

Although officials from the state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation want to build the 120-foot tower on state-owned land, they agreed to consider local comments in making their decision.

"Our process is to come to the community and gather comments as soon as we can in the process," said Jacqueline Phillips Murray, the lawyer representing Crown Communications, the site manager of the project.

Crown has proposed putting the 50-by-65-foot structure on the south side of the Southern State Parkway adjacent to South Bismark Avenue and Bellmore Road. The cell tower would potentially provide wireless communication services for five cell phone companies and local public safety agencies.

Community residents expressed concerns that a large tower will change the character of the neighborhood, reduce property values, cause environmental damage and possibly pose health risks.

Richard Schari, 66, a 36-year North Bellmore resident, said that parkways were built to be used as park land. He pointed out the community has four cell phone towers.

"We have to be very aware of what we put on our parkways," Schari said.

Murray, who said the proposal was first made several years ago, acknowledged, "We are aware there are some existing locations in the area." She added, "We need to revisit the need for the cell phone tower."

The Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals recently denied requests by cellular equipment companies to put wireless communications antennas in Garden City South, Wantagh and East Meadow.

The town passed a law in September requiring cell antennas to not be within 1,500 feet of certain facilities. But the town has no jurisdiction over the plan since it is for state land.

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