Drawing Fire For Pushing Emergency Applications of Proposed Tower Site

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UPDATE Elite Towers is caught in a controversy over promoting the construction of a tower on fire department property to facilitate emergency communications while being accused of making that an expedient excuse to build a commercial site for carriers. Elite went before the East Hampton Town Planning Board on September 11 with a proposal to replace an unused 150-foot tower on fire department property with a 180-footer. The meeting was attended by a large contingent of firefighters, according to the East Hampton Star, who supported the proposal. 

The attorney for the fire department, Carl Irace, said, “They’re here because this application is a critical part of the backbone of the communications system.”

Although the existing tower was built in 2015, its permit was revoked by the zoning board who said the site did not get proper approval before beginning construction. 

Both the fire department and Elite, in a joint action, are suing the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals over the closing of the earlier tower. While litigation has been pending over the past two years, Elite has had talks with local first responders about their needs including those of the East Hampton Police Department. Irace said the proposed tower would house antennas, including a dish, and a “whip” antenna with real-time voice and text functions, the Star reported.

A zoning board member called Elite “disingenuous” for wanting the site approval expedited for emergency services while planning to make it available for commercial carriers as well. Meanwhile, the Zoning Board had selected an alternative site for a 150-foot tower at the Camp Blue Bay Girl Scouts camp proposed by American Tower.

John Coughlin, an attorney for Elite said his client edited the proposal to focus solely on its emergency communications applications.

Board Vice-Chairwoman Kathy Cunningham, objected to the Elite proposal telling the Star, “We are the planning board, we are meant to plan. We’re meant to foresee what might happen in the future and recommend adjustments.” 

A spokesperson for the East Hampton Police Department said, for their purposes, the Girl Scout camp location on Flaggy Hole Road would give them the same coverage as the firehouse site.

September 23, 2019

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