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Huntington residents press case against cellphone towers

Attorney Andrew Campanelli discusses a federal lawsuit filed

Attorney Andrew Campanelli discusses a federal lawsuit filed by two homeowners from Huntington, including Jodi Abraham, left,  on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A small group of Huntington residents gathered on the steps of the Nassau County Courthouse Thursday to press their ongoing legal claim that mounted cellphone towers were wrongfully erected on their property.

“My husband had come home . . . and said, ‘There’s a cellphone tower in our front yard,’” said Jodi Abraham, who lives with her husband Peter and their two children on Glenna Little Trail. “We didn’t get any notice.”

The Abrahams and Jo-Ann and Perry Giambruno in June filed a lawsuit in Eastern District federal court against the town and Pennsylvania-based telecom company, Crown Castle NG East LLC, challenging the installation of the wireless devices and alleging the town wasn’t doing enough to regulate them.

Attorneys for Huntington last month filed a motion to dismiss the claim, and on Thursday town spokesman A.J. Carter declined to comment further. Crown Castle could not immediately be reached for comment.

A response to the motion to dismiss is due Nov. 15, said attorney Andrew Campanelli, who is representing the residents and was present at the courthouse in Mineola.

In August 2016, Huntington entered into an agreement with Crown Castle, allowing it to operate and maintain a distributed antenna system, according to the documents filed with the motion to dismiss. The systems comprise a network of antennas, which can be attached to utility and light poles. The board in November 2016 allowed the company to install new poles in public rights of way.

Among their claims, the residents say the town was required to notify them and hold public hearings before the new poles and attached equipment could be erected.

The town argues its planning board has discretion to authorize the location of personal wireless service facilities in public rights of way, and that the town was not required to give notice of systems attached to existing poles or streetlights not in the right of way.

Campanelli alleges that records were changed to show that the devices were placed on existing poles, when in fact new poles were put in, a claim the town denies.

The residents also cite concerns over the adverse impact the cell towers could have on home values and potentially the health of their families.

“It’s more of a long-term concern because . . . they don’t know what the health concerns are about this right now,” said Perry Giambruno. “I don’t want to be a guinea pig.”

The lawsuit does not allege that the towers emit radio-frequency waves greater than those deemed safe by the Federal Communications Commission, but calls on the town to create regulations requiring sporadic testing, Campanelli said.

Town officials say federal law prohibits them from doing so.

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