Facing opposition, Town Board rejects cell tower code change

02/12/2014 9:00 AM |
Southold Town was looking to amend its wireless facilities code to permit cell towers on historic sites, such as this parcel behind Town Hall. (Cyndi Murray photo)

Southold Town was looking to amend its wireless facilities code to permit cell towers on historic sites, such as this parcel behind Town Hall. (Cyndi Murray photo)

Southold Town Board members on Tuesday night voted against an amendment to the town’s wireless communication code that would have paved the way for construction of a cellphone tower behind Town Hall.

Members had postponed the vote last month following objections from the community that installing a cellphone tower in an historic district would damage Southold’s small-town charm and pose potential health risks.

The town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission recently came out in strong opposition to the Town Board’s proposal to permit freestanding wireless towers on vacant commercially zoned land, regardless of the parcel’s landmark status or designation as an historic district.

Currently, wireless communication facilities located within a designated historic district must be hidden within or behind an existing building, such as a church steeple, so that the tower is not visible to the public.

After closing the public hearing on the code change two weeks ago, the board voted 5-0 defeating the amendment Tuesday night.

“We start discussing this last February and we would have never gone this far if we knew this it would get this much opposition,” Supervisor Scott Russell said.

The move to revise a section of the code came after communications giant AT&T submitted an application requesting to construct a freestanding, 100-foot tall cellphone tower on vacant lot on Traveler Street, behind Town Hall.

In addition to the tower, the application calls for construction of a small equipment storage shed on the site.

Mr. Russell said previously said the project could create a new source of income that would benefit taxpayers. On Tuesday, he said that the Town would seek other sources of revenue in light of the strong opposition to the code change.

“We will continue to work with the applicant and other applicants for revenue generating opportunities,” he said.

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