Town Code Flexes for Cell Towers

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After studying federal regulations concerning cell towers, legislators in Huntington, NY have identified vulnerable areas where local concerns may be given more weight. As Newsday reports, the Long Island community has revised its town code to give it a bigger voice on telecommunications matters within the town itself.

The town acknowledges that federal concerns take precedence, but gave itself a voice in several key areas:

  • Proper location of equipment, a loosely defined item
  • Commercial placement over residential location and the right to enforce the preference
  • Using existing facilities for new equipment instead of constructing new stand-alone structures
  • Aesthetics, like paint color or faux trees to disguise cell tower equipment

“The law recognizes that residents have expressed concerns about the perceived health effects of this technology and the potential unknown impact on public health,” stated Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. “Federal law places these issues beyond the town to regulate, so the intent is to preserve neighborhood aesthetics, ensure proper locating of equipment and to regulate such facilities within the authority afforded the town pursuant to federal law.”

“We’ve had a lot of feedback in the past several years on the town’s role to regulate the installation of cell phone towers, antennas and equipment,” added Lupinacci. “We are confined in this area because of federal and state law, so we’re trying to exercise the authority that we have with the extent permissible by federal and state law.” He also noted that the revised town codes will require telecoms to prove why locations suggested by the municipality are not feasible before moving ahead with their own selections.

There are currently two projects underway that will likely put the town’s new rulings to the test. One project involves a Dix Hills Water District water tower on Colby Drive, the other is for a cell tower location along East Jericho Turnpike. According to Deputy Supervisor Ed Smyth, Huntington’s revised town code gives it the maximum jurisdiction available to the community for cell tower placement which is still allowable under federal law.

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