Classic Dilemma in Smithtown: Scenery vs. Service

Residents of Smithtown, NY are fed up with insufficient signal and dropped calls, but the 120-foot cell phone tower proposed by Elite Towers to hold equipment for Verizon and New Cingular wireless is meeting opposition. “I’m tired of living in a town where I can’t get any cell service,” Smithtown resident Diane Carrol told the town board at a hearing. Other residents who support the tower cited frequent dropped calls and a serious public safety issue that causes some 911 calls from Smithtown to be rerouted to Connecticut, according to Newsday.

Some residents oppose the location of the proposed tower, just a third of a mile east of the Nissequogue River and Smithtown’s beloved waterfront area. According to Newsday, town officials wrote a planning guide for the waterfront decades ago which was intended to protect the natural area against pollution and overzealous development, but the guide could not have anticipated the eventual need for cell phone towers. For example, structures in the waterfront area are limited to 35 feet tall in the current zoning requirements, which is not a sufficient height for an effective tower.

Town planners currently warn that the proposed tower would “disrupt the natural aesthetic character of the waterfront.” Suffolk County resident and planning commissioner, Michael Kaufman, cautioned town council members against the slippery slope of “creeping encroachment” along the waterfront. Despite skepticism from some residents, the project is moving ahead, having been granted a preliminary approval in September, and will likely be subjected to an environmental study, as reported by Newsday.

February 8, 2018

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