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Wantagh cellphone tower plan halted after agreement, court ruling

Hempstead Town officials are hailing a federal court ruling that halts the construction of cellphone towers in Wantagh, calling it a victory for the residential community and the town.

The dismissal last week came nearly four years after the town zoning board of appeals rejected T-Mobile Northeast's bid to put six transmitters atop the Farmingdale-Wantagh Jewish Center on Woodbine Avenue.

Town Supervisor Kate Murray said the decision by District Court Judge Arthur Spatt in Central Islip "signifies another crucial victory for Hempstead Town and Wantagh neighbors."

The phone towers "never conformed to the character of this . . . community," she said in a statement.

Many Wantagh residents had opposed the towers in the residential neighborhood.

T. Scott Thompson, the Washington, D.C.-based attorney representing T-Mobile Northeast, did not return calls seeking comment.

Charles Kovit, Hempstead's chief deputy town attorney, said the dismissal, which resulted from an agreement between the two sides, "means the telephone company can never bring this particular case back to the courts." He added that the town had been ready to go to trial in the case.

The dismissal "culminates a long effort against the unwanted proposal . . . in this proud residential community," Councilman Gary Hudes said in a statement.

Town officials said the zoning board, supported by many residents, had ruled against T-Mobile on several grounds, including that the company could not show a need for improved wireless coverage in the area and concern about the impact of the antennas on property values.

Hempstead has one of the nation's toughest wireless communications laws, town officials said.

"While the victory is sweet, we'll continue to remain vigilant in the face of other potentially troublesome cell antenna applications in our communities," Murray said.

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