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Cell Tower Moratorium Extended

Rezoning on stretch of Lowndes Avenue approved.

The voted unanimously to extend a moratorium on the construction of cell phone towers to June 6 at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The moratorium, , is in place because the Town Code needs to be updated on how to treat wireless communication facilities. Technologies are much more advanced than they were the last time the code was updated (in 1998).

A public hearing on the resolution was held before the members of the board voted on it. At the hearing, Robert Gaudioso, a lawyer representing T-Mobile Northeast, expressed displeasure with the moratorium, saying that it was initially issued without a discussion of alternatives to it, without a statement of why the code was inadequate without the moratorium and without any hard evidence to illustrate the need for the moratorium.

Gaudioso's main concerns over the moratorium were over its impact on his client's pending application to construct a cell phone tower at 9 Crosby Place in Cold Spring Harbor, where four other towers from competitive companies are located. Gaudioso requested that his client's application be exempted from the moratorium, and the board later passed a resolution (2011-238) scheduling a public hearing to discuss his request. The resolution passed with a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Susan Berland opposing.

The public hearing on the moratorium was combined with a public hearing on the proposed changes in the code in regard to cell phone towers. Gaudioso had two main concerns with the proposed code changes. He first contested the code’s call for new towers to be built in industrial zones over co-locating towers in existing residential zones, saying that co-location should happen first and foremost. This was contested by local resident Alissa Taff, who cited the fact that there are 40 towers located in one spot in the Dix Hills water district. “I know you want to keep them in one area,” she said, “but after a while, the saturation is ridiculous.”

Gaudioso’s other main concern was over the new time frames created by the law’s request to add a pre-application and post-application form in addition to the already-required application to the zoning board. He said that the FCC requires 90 days to process a co-location application as well as 150 days to process a new stand-alone tower application, and contested that adding on these application times would make it impossible to meet proper time frames. The board told him that he would be put in contact with the town attorney to discuss his concerns.

The town passed a number of  other esolutions at the meeting.

One of the resolutions that garnered significant discussion was one to rezone properties along the west side of Lowndes Avenue in Huntington Station from industrial (I5) to residential (R5) properties. Before the resolution was voted on, Councilman Mark Mayoka expressed concerns over the area becoming too dense once the lot was converted to affordable housing units as proposed.

His concerns were met with displeasure from the rest of the board, notably Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, who called Mayoka's timing "disingenous." The rest of the board reiterated its commitment to revitalizing the property with the affordable housing, which became dilapidated in recent years. The resolution was passed with a 4-1 vote, with Mayoka casting the opposing vote.

Other resolutions passed by the Town board authorized Comptroller Tracy Yogman to use money from the Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement fund to make improvements to the Woodbine Marina in Northport (2011-220), Depot Road Park in Huntington Station (2011-222), and for streetscaping along Larkfield Road (2011-223). As part of the Depot Road Park resolution, Director of Planning and Environment Anthony Aloisio was asked to seek and maintain a Tree City USA designation. All of these resolutions were passed unanimously.

Mayoka opposed a resolution that executed a requirements contract with Industrial Refrigeration, Inc. to maintain the Ice Rink Refrigeration System at Dix Hills Park (specifically relating to Dix Hills Ice Rink), as he was unhappy that the monthly costs on the facility were not made available to him. The resolution passed by a 4-1 vote.

A public hearing over extending the time allowed to park along Boulevard Avenue in Greenlawn from one hour to two hours saw one local resident speak in favor of the application and one local resident speak against it. Joseph Ferrandina requested the extension so that members of the Knights of Columbus chapter would not have to leave during meetings, which take one and a half to two hours to complete, to check on their cars. But Boulevard Avenue resident Richard Dio wasked the board to reconsider, saying that it would lead to more cars parked on the street, which would cause problems during winter months when roadways need to be plowed and/or sanded due to snow.

Resident Lawrence Leek spoke at a public hearing over a proposed allocation of $550,000 from the town to oversee improvements to manholes, blowers and sewer lines in the Huntington Sewer District. He requested that the board review the costs of the sewer district to taxpayers, suggesting that the taxes reflect the usage of residents rather than having a flat tax fee for everyone.

Supervisor Frank Petrone responded that homeowners without children make the same argument when it comes to school taxes.

Public hearings on plans to add 15 and 20-mile-per-hour speed limits near schools in the Huntington, Northport-East Northport, Harborfields, and Half Hollow Hills school districts were closed without any speakers.

Resolutions permitting similar changes to speed limits for schools in the Elwood (2011-227), Commack (2011-228), and Cold Spring Harbor (2011-229) school districts were approved unanimously by the board.

The next meeting of the Town Board will be on May 16 at 7 p.m.

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