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Kings Park cellphone tower plan encounters resistance

A new cell tower is proposed for Old

A new cell tower is proposed for Old Dock Road in Kings Park, seen on Jan. 30, 2016, and while some town officials say it doesn't meet zoning codes, others say it would improve safety in the area. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A proposal to build a 150-foot cellphone tower in Kings Park doesn’t meet several zoning requirements, but some Smithtown town board members say it would improve public safety.

Elite Towers LP filed an application for a special exception to permit the wireless service facility on a one-acre site along Old Dock Road, north of Orchard Road. The site includes Shanahan’s Bar and Grill, an apartment building and two single-family dwellings, planning documents show.

Elite Towers wants to install the monopole with a 3-foot diameter that conceals antenna cables, as well as a 2,500- square-foot compound with a generator and other equipment. The tower would be built near the rear of the site, which is bordered by the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center and vacant property owned by St. Johnland Nursing Center.

“We’re trying to provide service that people don’t have,” said Gregory Alvarez, a Garden City-based attorney representing Elite and Verizon Wireless, at a public hearing last month before the town board.

But the application doesn’t meet many of the roughly 20 combined standards for special exception requests and telecommunications facilities, planning officials found.

The 150-foot tower would not comply with a requirement that it be no taller than the structures within 300 feet of it, town planning director David Flynn wrote in a memo to board members. The nearest structure is the bar, which appears to be 30 to 35 feet tall, he said.

Another standard requires a circular fall zone radius twice the height of the pole to protect people and property from falling ice. The application does not have sufficient site area for the fall zone, Flynn said.

But Alvarez said in an interview that the tower height is necessary to exceed treetops and ensure adequate pole space for multiple carriers. He said the tower does not have enough surface area to accumulate ice that would pose safety risks.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said that Alvarez effectively suggested that the need for communication overrode zoning requirements. “What do we exist for, if not to have standards and requirements?” Vecchio said.

Councilmen Thomas McCarthy and Edward Wehrheim said in interviews they favored the proposal for safety reasons, particularly in Long Island Sound where town officials said some emergency calls have been directed to Connecticut.

“We have had a number of tragedies on the Nissequogue River, and we’ve been advised by the fire services and rescue personnel that the lack of cellphone service in the area has complicated rescue efforts,” Wehrheim said.

McCarthy agreed, pointing out that no residents opposed the application at the hearing. “It will definitely help the dead zones in the Nissequogue River and at the Kings Park bluff,” he said.

Cell tower coverage zone

  • Roughly 34.5 miles of roadway, including 3.4 miles along Old Dock Road
  • Approximately 135 businesses
  • More than 5,000 community members

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