Community

Town Looks to Gain More Control Over Placement of Telecom Equipment

6867d24786c04a112a37_town_board_-_schmitt.jpg
Supervisor Ken Schmitt and board members John Lupinacci and Suzi McDonough listen to Pat Cleary, the town’s planning consultant, give his presentation on a proposed law on telecommunication equipment. Credits: Bob Dumas
6867d24786c04a112a37_town_board_-_schmitt.jpg

MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The Town Board is considering a new ordinance it hopes will give them more control over the appearance and placement of wireless equipment, such as antennae, around the community.

“We just felt having an ordinance to regulate this equipment and these communication companies that request to install it is important,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt. “We should have some type of town code with respect to installing them on the roofs of buildings and things like that.”

At last week’s board meeting, Pat Cleary, the town’s planning consultant, gave a presentation on what the new law could and could not do.

Sign Up for E-News

“At the moment, we don’t have any regulations regarding wireless communications, so we are sort of at the mercy of these companies when they come into our communities and you have seen some of the consequences of that,” he said, referring to the antennae recently installed on the roof of the Joseph J. Smith Funeral Home on Route 6, which many have described as unsightly.

Cleary said the proposed law is based on a code that has been used in many communities throughout the state but has been modified to deal with some of the specific local issues the town has been dealing with. But, he noted, a federal law passed more than 20 years ago limits what local municipalities can do.

“The federal government, through the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, preempted local communities from dealing with a lot of regulatory issues that we usually deal with about land uses,” he said. “So, we don’t have any ability to prevent wireless communication from locating virtually anywhere. So, what this [proposed law] does, it says while we acknowledge that, we have priorities. We would rather you be in non-residential areas. Now when they come to us, they must justify why they are choosing to be in that particular location. So, while we can’t say no, we can make them go through a process.”

Cleary said the town doesn’t have the ability to regulate the environmental consequences, such as the radiation impact, but the proposed law would include a requirement that applicants must comply with the FCC’S environmental impact regulations. 

Cleary also said the one aspect the town does have some control over is the aesthetics of the project.

“We had originally put in provisions [that the applicants must] provide simulations and models, but this [version of the] ordinance goes a bit farther than everyone else does in that it requires actual mock-ups to be constructed,” he said. “That comes as a consequence of the funeral home [antennae].”

Cleary said that under the new law, every application has to come with an actual-size mock-up of the equipment lay out exactly where it will be placed. He emphasized that the mock-ups are not going to be scale models.

“We are talking about actual physical plywood installations on the roof of the facility so it will be the exact height, size and shape and even the color [of the actual equipment],” he said. “It’s more than anything anyone else does. They will be required to take it down after a period of time. It’s a very important process.”

The mock-up and plan must come before the planning board meeting at least two weeks prior to installation.

“Then we will have a much better understanding of the aesthetic implications,” he said.

Cleary said the proposed law will also act as an incentive to keep applicants away from residential neighborhoods. 

“One thing we have installed in this regulation is [the ability to] facilitate the hierarchy of the siting [of the equipment],” he explained. “If these facilities go in the commercial or non-residential areas, or onto existing towers or existing facilities, there will be an expedited process for them. That’s the incentive to get them to go where we want them to go. If they want to go anywhere else, there is now the 17-day special permit and going to a planning board public hearing. The process becomes the disincentive for them to go elsewhere.” 

Board members asked Cleary if the proposed law would make the town vulnerable to lawsuits from communication companies looking to install equipment.
“Has there been any consequences in other towns who have tried to take these extra steps?” asked Councilman Frank Lombardi. “Has it passed muster? I just don’t want to be stuck in court the first time we do it.”

Cleary said there is case law to support the proposed ordinance.

“There is now case law that imposes something called a ‘shot clock’, which requires us to make these [application] determinations within 90 days,” he told the board. “The carriers have said they will go through any exercise we want as long as within 90 days they have a decision. If we do our job rapidly, they’ll build the models for us.” 

The proposed law will now be forwarded to the Planning Board for its scrutiny and comments and then sent back to the Town Board, which will schedule a public hearing for it.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

Turn On the Light and Watch the Roaches Flee

When I lived in Los Angeles, I was a senior editor for a magazine called Pool & Spa News. It was the leading trade magazine in North America for the swimming pool and hot tub industry. It was a fun and fascinating job—and I learned a lot.

One of the many things I learned was about how pools are sanitized. (There are more ways than you think.) As most know, chlorine is the first line ...

Cigarettes, Drugs and Border Patrol

This is from the website Rare: “Seattle has decided to impose a 1.75 cent per ounce tax on all sugary beverages within the city with the hopes of raising a $15 million revenue stream that it will use for programs to help people ‘have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables,’ as Seattle station KIRO 7 explains. The price of Gatorade Frost Variety Pack at Costco, usually ...

Who Really Killed Eric Garner?*

Last week, Erica Garner died.* She was the daughter of Eric Garner, who died while resisting arrest for selling individual cigarettes, otherwise known as “loosies.”* Most news stories about her death begin this way: “Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, who died from a police choke-hold screaming ‘I can’t breath...’ ”* This event lead Erica to become an ...

A Loudmouth Remains Conspicuously Silent

I’ve been side by side with Andy Bazzo on this page for more than three years now and, other than a minor skirmish back in 2015, we’ve tolerated each other’s political views and avoided personal criticism. However, recently, several readers of my column have questioned why I haven’t confronted Bazzo’s rhetoric more fervently, especially when his bombast is so filled ...

Breakfast with Rocco

I went into a neighborhood eatery the other day to grab some breakfast with one of my politically aware buddies, Rocco. It was crowded and we happened to sit right next to a couple of young tradesmen—a carpenter and an electrician—who were talking politics and worrying out loud about the new Republican tax bill; was it going to help or hurt them? As we waited for the waitress to take ...

Talkin' 'Bout Our Generations

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Just because we get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

—Peter Townshend (The Who)

I’ve become obsessed of late with generations. Well, what ...

A Post-Apocalyptic House Cleaning

I’m usually pretty good about keeping track of what’s in my fridge. But over the course of a few weeks, the food containers seem to multiply and take over. By the time I get around to realizing that some items have been in there too long, the contents of the containers way in the back of the refrigerator either look like a science experiment gone awry or a refrigerated toupee.

This ...

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Grudge

Contrary to what I generally tell people, the happiest moment of my life was not the day I got married, nor the final push when I gave birth to either of my two kids. It was the day a driver tailgated me relentlessly for five miles and then sped away… until he got pulled over by a state trooper.

Although I know it is better to forgive and forget, I am just not one of those people who is ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_e78291c739644b28bebd_blood_drive_flyer-page-001

Sat, January 27, 9:00 AM

Somers High School, Somers

Health Fair

Health & Wellness

Wed, January 31, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Wed, February 7, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Reminiscing About the Old Times

January 11, 2018

To the editor,

Regarding the closing of Healy’s Corner Bar, before it was Healy’s, it was Happy Valley. Actually, the whole county was a “Happy Valley” in those times (if maybe a little ingrown, prejudicial enclave, but there was community). I went to a wedding reception there in the Fifties.

The Hide-a-Way, a nice restaurant/bar on Baldwin Place Road, just north of ...