Letter: Cell Tower Proposal

I have been closely following the discussion of a proposal to build a cell phone tower on Vineyard Road in Philipstown and the proposed alternative sites such as the landfill site on Lane Gate Road (As the Towers Turn, Sept. 22).

I have a dog in this fight. I live on Lane Gate Road. I am not opposed to placing a tower there but I have some deep-seated concerns.

Specifically, the landfill was once used as a disposal site for the Marathon Battery plant at a time when the environmental considerations that are routine now were not in place. I took the liberty of contacting the Environmental Protection Agency to determine what safety parameters need to be considered before locating a structure of that size at the landfill. Pamela Tames, a remedial project manager for Region 2, responded to my email and said:

“I was unable to find any information about this landfill online but if it is old enough to have accepted waste in the 1950s and 1960s, it probably does not have a bottom liner and it relies on its impermeable cap to keep its waste contained,” she wrote. “It is important that any construction work for the tower maintains the cap so it can continue to act as an impermeable barrier [her emphasis]. The engineer who is designing the tower should be performing some geologic tests to determine if the landfill is geologically stable enough to support the weight of the tower.”

An ounce of prevention is essential. My fear is that the cap will be unintentionally disturbed and the aquifer contaminated. Before any consideration of the landfill as a viable site, it must be established that 1) the site is geologically stable, 2) the proposed footings will not disturb the cap, and 3) the weight of materials crossing the cap will not disturb it.

Given the potential for harm, I do not understand why this location is under consideration, especially as there is a third potential site, MeKeels Corner. This site already has a tower that could be replaced.

Further, why has there been no exploration of alternative technologies, such as boosters, to meet our needs? In this age of rapid technological advance, why are we locked into an aging technology? I respectfully ask Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Robert Dee and the committee to take these concerns under advisement when considering a zoning variance for this location.

Ellyn Varela-Burstein, Philipstown

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