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Long IslandSuffolk

Saltaire cell tower plan faces challenge

While the Saltaire board of trustees is considering allowing a cell tower on village land in favor of the rent money it would bring in, Saturday's meeting showed there is healthy opposition to the idea.

Mayor Robert Cox said that every few years, a wireless carrier makes the village an offer to lease land for a cell tower. Cox added a deal with the likes of Verizon or AT&T could improve local wireless service, but the village needs to carefully consider the prospect.

Most residents who spoke out were skeptical of the idea, and the mayor and board members also shared concern that a cell tower would be an eyesore and potential health risk in the affluent, second-home community.

"To put a 50-foot tower up . . . looking at that, it's going to be huge," Trustee John Zaccaro said. He added that he's slightly less worried about the health risks now that more municipalities are approving the towers.

But Trustee Alex Chefetz said he's "generally positive" on the idea. "I think it's good revenue, it would be good for service, which is good for the community in case of emergencies," he said, adding serious research on the health aspect would be necessary.

Several residents said $26,000 per year in rent was unimpressive -- and that current cellphone technology could become obsolete during the 35-year lease deal. A handout from the village says rent paid by wireless carriers would increase each year, up to $73,400 per year.

The board also voted to enter into a contract with the lowest responsible bidder to provide auditing services, since the village has used the same auditor for multiple years. Members of the board said that changing auditors periodically is "good practice" to get an independent view on village finances.