Town Board Reviews Prospective Income-Generating Cellphone Tower

Project could bring free generator for emergency services

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Philipstown’s Town Board last week began considering installation of a cellphone tower at the town’s landfill, a project that could also bring a new generator to the site for emergency services radio operations.

Town Board Members, from left, Dave Merandy, Richard Shea, Nancy Montgomery, and John Van Tassel review cell tower models with Vincent Xavier of Homeland Towers, right. (Town Board Member Mike Leonard was absent.) Photo by L.S. Armstrong

Town Board Members, from left, Dave Merandy, Richard Shea, Nancy Montgomery, and John Van Tassel review cell tower models with Vincent Xavier of Homeland Towers, right. (Town Board Member Mike Leonard was absent.) Photo by L.S. Armstrong

At its workshop Wednesday night (March 26), the board also continued efforts to get renovation of the 1867 Town Hall underway, following a tour earlier that day by architects interested in submitting proposals for the work.

To discuss the cell tower option, the board met with Vincent Xavier, site development manager for Homeland Towers, a Danbury, Conn.-based firm that works with service carriers, such as AT&T. According to Xavier, AT&T has identified a cellphone “dead zone” or “hole” at Nelsonville Corners, the area near Route 9 and Lane Gate Road, not far from the town government-owned landfill. No longer used for trash deposits, the landfill now serves as the Philipstown recycling center.

“The need is definitely there” for a cell tower in that spot, Xavier informed the board. “Otherwise they [AT&T] wouldn’t be spending the money” to get one. If the project moves forward, a detailed study of the need for the tower would be conducted, he said.

Xavier said that three private landowners have sought to locate the tower on their properties. However, “I wanted to offer the opportunity to the town first. You would have free use of the tower” for municipal purposes, he said. Xavier also promised to ensure that any lease with the town includes a provision for giving Philipstown a free generator. The board recently decided to see about adding a generator to the landfill for emergency service radio communication.

The Homeland Towers representative showed the board images of towers and said he believes the best model for the landfill would be a “mono-pole,” instead of a “mono-pine” version resembling a large conifer. Screened by vegetation, the tower would stand “at least 150 feet” tall in a plot 60 feet on a side and handle at least five or more cellphone carriers, plus the town equipment, he said.

“I certainly think it would be worth looking into,” Councilor John Van Tassel commented.

“It would mean monthly income for the town, which we are desperate for,” plus a free generator, Supervisor Richard Shea observed, although the amount of revenue, from use of the site, was not specified. He also noted that any visual impact and related effects would have to be evaluated.

Philipstown Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Robert Dee, a member of the audience, observed that under the 2011 zoning law, which covers cell tower matters in detail, the tower “would need a special-use permit.”

The board and Xavier scheduled an exploratory visit to the landfill April 1.

Town Hall renovations

Shea reported on his meeting with architects about the long-awaited Town Hall upgrades, including an elevator to provide access for the physically handicapped to the second-floor public meeting hall and courtroom. As part of the overall project, the Town Board also plans to rehabilitate Dahlia House, a vacant former home next door to Town Hall.

“When you start walking around this building and taking a critical look, it really gets depressing,” he said, outlining intended Town Hall repairs, both interior and exterior. “It needs to happen,” he said. “If you have a home, you just don’t let it fall into the ground. This is the town’s home.”

Tankers at Philipstown Square

When the board turned to other business, Van Tassel mentioned one and sometimes two large fuel tanker trucks, 18-wheelers, parked “all the time” by Philipstown Square (formerly Perk’s Plaza), the shopping strip on Route 9 in the town’s northern end. He said he had brought the situation to the attention of the town code enforcement officer for likely action. Continually parking fuel tankers there “just doesn’t seem like a safe procedure to me,” he said.

10 thoughts on “Town Board Reviews Prospective Income-Generating Cellphone Tower

  1. I shudder at another cell tower and this one is too close for comfort. Let us not exchange our health for profit. I sincerely hope this tower will be voted down. Too many health concerns.

  2. I agree, that is way too close for comfort. Would any of you want a cell phone tower next door to your home? The jury is certainly still out on the health risks of cell phone towers.

  3. The town board has been mulling this over since cell towers first came to town. It is time for the town to tap into this now-essential system. When people give up their cell phones, we can take it down. As far as health concerns, give up your televisions, electric toothbrushes, computers, etc. They pose more EMR risk than these towers.

  4. Mr. Merante brings up a very good point. There are EMFs created by many of our household appliances, with mobile and cell phones being some of the worst offenders. How many of you who decry cell towers use a microwave oven to reheat your leftovers or, God forbid, the baby bottle? At least we can see the cell tower and know the distance of safety from its EM field. Are we aware of how WiFi and the technological advances in our schools are exposing our children to these invisible fields? Do you know if your electric or water meter is a transmitting meter that can be read remotely, creating a large EM field in your own home? This is a subject that needs to be brought out into the public forum.

  5. Let’s look at the relative danger of a cell phone tower. People talk about radiation from electric blankets, computer screens, microwave ovens, and Indian Point as though they were all the same. Some say it’s all dangerous and others say none of it is. Without addressing that, lets just agree that if something is dangerous, more of it is more dangerous.

    A point source is loud close up and every time you get twice as far away, it’s a quarter as loud. So, which is giving you more radio frequency energy, a cell phone transmitter against your body or a tower transmitter a thousand feet away? A billion to one?

    A cell phone and tower send signals just strong enough. The phone and tower talk to each other and one thing they say is how well they can hear. A cell phone has a tiny battery and transmits louder if needed but quieter if it can decrease battery drain.

    So which is greater, the energy from a cell phone against your body transmitting to a tower far away, a cell phone against you body transmitting to a tower close by, or a tower a thousand feet away transmitting a signal just strong enough for a cell phone to hear?

    I’m not saying there is any danger, but it’s clear to me that it’s from the phone, not the tower, and worse if the tower is far away.

    Cell phone companies maximize profit. I’m not in favor of helping them. If the tower is too high and is an eyesore, let them install ten short ones instead. Then our cell phones will get even longer battery life.

  6. The value in a cell tower lies in the people and their devices that utilize its service. Cold Spring and Philipstown are probably high up on the technology scale, making a local cell tower very lucrative for its owners. Right now, I would bet that one or more carrier has to pay another competing carrier for shared usage of one of the other’s existing towers when what they really want is one of their own. Why rent when you can own? They would then get to charge the others for shared usage. That might explain the current interest in Philipstown.

    I would recommend to the Town Board that it look into building a cell tower themselves and leasing it to the highest bidders. P.S. More than one carrier can use the same tower = more than one tenant for the Town to provide access to.

    I doubt there would be a shortage of companies wanting to provide services to our community in the foreseeable future.

    The next bit of info comes from http://www.steelintheair.com/new-cell-towers-and-technology.html:

    “Consumer demand for higher speeds brought on by robust and rising Smartphone and tablet usage, and the pervasive 4G technology migration, will drive future demand for cell site leasing. The number of cell sites in the U.S. alone is expected to surpass 400,000 by 2015. AT&T alone will build 10,000 new cell sites, 40,000 small cell sites and 1,000 distributed antenna systems in 2013/2014. It’s safe to presume that Verizon will closely match this number, and that Sprint and T-Mobile will not be far behind. This is good news for landowners, building owners and municipalities who are engaged in cellular lease negotiations.”

  7. Thanks Chris. See you at the Tot’s Park. One other thought: If there is Town Council interest in providing enhanced emergency communications equipment, building a new “Philipstown Municipal Emergency Management Communication Tower” would be just the thing! And, if it is up to spec, the AT&Ts of the world can hitch a ride for a small monthly “community good-will” contribution ;-). Each carrier can submit their application along with a “good faith” fee of 1 Generator :-).

  8. Responding to Jim Requa’s comments on smaller antennas vis a vis large cell towers: Years ago when the first of these applications came before the ZBA, the phone companies were pushed to use the newest technology, which at the time were “repeaters.” They are small antennas placed on every other utility pole and negated the need for these large monopoles. Concomitant with that is the reduction in EMR. Of course, the tower companies, in particular, protested vehemently and it was never enacted. We should be looking to move past these behemoths.