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Wireless firm suing Oyster Bay over revoked permits

Denise Tufano, right, speaks to Oyster Bay Town

Denise Tufano, right, speaks to Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, left, as Woodbury homeowners and Oyster Bay officials protest next-generation cellphone repeaters that are being installed on utility poles throughout the town, May 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

A Texas company sued the Town of Oyster Bay in federal court on Thursday over the revocation of permits to install wireless “microcells” in residential areas.

Crown Castle NG East LLC seeks to have its permits reissued so it can resume installation immediately and also seeks unspecified damages, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court in Central Islip.

“We are eager to serve the community of Oyster Bay and were disappointed town officials, after our work throughout the community had already begun, issued an order preventing Crown Castle from continuing to work on the small cell network installation permits the town issued to us,” Crown Castle said in a statement Thursday.

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in an interview Thursday the town would “take every legal step to protect our residents” and “will not provide permits for Crown Castle.”

Last month Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino revoked seven permits in response to resident complaints about wireless equipment that had been installed in the utility strip — the land between a sidewalk and the curb — on residential property in Woodbury on behalf of Verizon Wireless.

The suit alleges that public statements made by Saladino about potential health risks from the cellphone equipment show he violated federal laws prohibiting municipalities from restricting installation for those reasons.

“There’s nothing wrong with asking what the health effects are,” Saladino said.

The complaint also alleges the town’s actions violated federal laws against unreasonable delays to install wireless equipment and denied the company due process.

Crown Castle said in the suit that it had submitted applications with drawings, maps, and detailed equipment information for 24 locations for cellphone “nodes.” After site visits with town officials, it submitted 12 revised plans and was issued most of the permits in April, according to the suit.

Saladino said the town had given the company access to the utility strip but it didn’t have the necessary building permits, contracts or licensing agreements with the town.

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