New cell tower emits bad vibes

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Another cell phone tower has sprung up in Marine Park and residents are fighting mad.

“It’s not a good thing, it’s not a healthy thing,” said Brian McManus, who lives in a home in back of the tower. “I’m kind of mad that they can go ahead and put these things up in a residential area and not talk to the residents.”

The structure was erected on the roof of a two-story building at 3623 Quentin Road. The first floor of the building houses Highway Locksmiths Inc. and the second floor consists of two apartments occupied by family members of Highway Locksmiths’ employees.

Eliot, the owner of the building and operator of Highway Locksmiths, agreed to an interview but declined to give his last name for fear of being hounded by local residents opposed to the tower.

He said he was approached by a company called MPS which wanted to install a series of antennas.

“Before I made a decision to have the antennas put on the roof, I got documents from the federal government showing all the different tests that they performed and how there is no evidence whatsoever that it’s harmful. I gave the neighbors copies of these reports,” he said.

“There is a law or requirement that says how high or how low the antennas can be,” Eliot said. “It has to be a certain height over the roofline of any house in view. They are in compliance with the federal, city and state rules.”

Approximately 90 percent of the structure has been installed so far. After the remaining pieces are set up and the antennas are operational, Eliot said he will paint the ladders granting access to the roof so they appear “clean and neat.”

Eliot, who does not live in Marine Park, seemed unconcerned about working in a building underneath the antennas.

“There are family members that live in the apartment above the store which is right under the antennas and I and my partners are there every day,” he said.

However, local residents remain worried about the devices.

“The location is so low to the ground,” said McManus, who has three young children.

“We still don’t know the health effects from these RF waves that come off of these sites. The jury is still out on that,” McManus continued. “Until the scientific study to the highest degree is conducted to prove that it’s safe, I don’t think that these should be going up so close to residents, so close to people’s homes.”

Eliot signed a contract allowing the antennas to remain for five years. He declined to say how much money he is being paid.

But Marine Park Civic Association President Greg Borruso said cell phone companies generally pay “thousands of dollars a month.”

The tower was erected “as-of-right,” leaving residents and politicians little chance to get the structure torn down.

“I’m powerless on this issue,” said City Councilmember Lew Fidler. “I wish that were not the case.”

“Everyone in the room recalls the last cell phone tower in Marine Park,” he said of the controversial structure erected on top of a two-story building at 3524 Avenue S in 2005. “We made a number of different efforts. I co-sponsored legislation that would restrict the cell phone towers in New York City but that legislation can’t move anywhere because it’s preempted by federal law.”

“Every time we had an opportunity to fight a cell phone tower, either here or in Canarsie, we didn’t win,” state Assemblyman Alan Maisel said at last week’s Marine Park Civic meeting.

Maisel said he’s spoken to an Assembly member in upstate New York who fought the installation of a cell phone tower and won.

The upstate politician said that the only way to get a tower removed is by “proving that the cell phone tower was not needed to improve cell phone reception. That’s the only way according to the FCC to beat them,” Maisel explained.

Eliot said he could challenge his contract at any time.

“It can only come down if it’s proven a legitimate reason,” he explained.

For instance, arguing that the tower was installed improperly.

But it seems like Eliot has no plans to fight his five-year contract.

“I’ve broken no laws,” he said.

Eliot said he hasn’t decided if he will renew the contract after it expires in five years.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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