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North Hempstead imposes time frame for removal of utility poles

Double poles line Maple Street in Manhasset on

Double poles line Maple Street in Manhasset on June 26, 2014. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The North Hempstead town board has passed a measure establishing a time frame for utility companies to remove decommissioned poles.

The board approved legislation 7-0 at its Tuesday night meeting, continued from public hearings in July and August.

Some residents have been outraged over the installation of about 200 80-foot utility poles between Great Neck and Manhasset positioned next to poles nearly half as tall. PSEG Long Island has said the project was key to ensuring reliability and meeting peak demand.

The town sought the law -- similar to ones in Babylon, Riverhead and Southampton towns and Suffolk County's measure -- to ensure utilities quickly remove the poles.

More than 200 poles have been installed, and 177 are considered doubles, said PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir. Of those, 20 have been removed; including 10 of the 23 along Town of North Hempstead roads. PSEG has promised to coordinate all removals by the end of the year.

Utilities with existing poles have 30 days to remove each of their plants -- or equipment on the pole -- starting with the utility that has the top plant. Utilities with plants lower down will follow, and also have 30 days. The last utility to remove its plant has an additional 30 days to remove the pole.

The town supervisor can suspend time limits in an emergency. The superintendent of highways can allow utility companies extra time to comply with the code.

Damaged poles will be regulated, too. The highway superintendent will alert the utility that plants have to be removed within 15 days, and the utility that owns the pole must replace it within 15 days.

There is a $500 fine for the first violation and $1,000 for a second or additional violations. There is also a civil penalty of $500.

"There are double poles throughout the town that all need to be addressed," Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said at the meeting. "This is an effort to get rid of the double poles . . . It's just not happening as quickly and as often as we think it ought to."

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