Call to legislators for fair process on placement of cell tower, more time for comment

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To the editor:

This letter was originally sent to State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.

Thank you both for your ongoing efforts and support of Pelham and Pelham Manor. Your combined leadership at the state level continues to help Pelham prosper. As you know, on July 22, Crown Communications presented at the Village of Pelham Manor Board of Trustees meeting regarding the proposed construction of a 120-foot tall monopole/cell tower. During the presentation, the Crown rep who spoke communicated that Crown (and by extension NYS/NYS Department of Transportation) wanted to have a dialogue with the Pelham Manor community regarding this proposal. During that same meeting, I personally asked the Crown rep what was timeline for the discussion, and would they come back to an additional meeting to hear more resident feedback. The answer from the Crown rep was “there is no hard deadline…this is our initial outreach….we’re several months out from any next steps…” (Please refer to this video of the meeting at 45:08 minutes in the second video clip for the comments from the Crown rep: https://www.pelhammanor.org/home/pages/meeting-video.)

I specifically asked what is the timeline because it’s the middle of the summer, most residents are away/on vacation and not focused on these issues, and it goes against the spirit of full disclosure and public interest to present this issue at a village board meeting on a sleepy summer Monday and then not provide the public another live forum to provide feedback. Crown provided their contact information for residents to send feedback, but that is not the same as having a forum specifically on this issue with Crown reps to hear and respond to village residents and there concerns. At the July 22 board meeting, not a single resident was in support of the cell tower; in fact, over a dozen people got up in opposition to this, including the Pelham Preservation Society President.

I am writing to you for the following action items:

  • Attached you will find a petition with 300-plus signatures from residents of Pelham in Strong OPPOSITION to the proposed monopole at exit 7. Please note, that due to GEO tracking, some of the signatories look as if they don’t reside in Pelham, but they all do, since this was distributed on Pelham-only forums. To get 30o-plus signatures in a sleepy summer week of July speaks volumes as to the discontent this issue is causing in our village and town.
  • We urgently plead with your offices to ensure that Crown Communications extend their commentary period/public outreach to Pelham into September, when residents are back from summer vacation and to have an additional live forum with Crown at the next Pelham Manor trustee meeting in September. There’s a Manor village board meeting on Aug. 26, but that is the week of Labor Day and many will be gone. All we ask is for proper time in normal conditions for feedback from the public, which is vehemently opposed to this monopole at its proposed location and in Pelham in general. The urgency of such a tower is not such that it can’t wait until September for proper public feedback.
  • We the people of Pelham ask for you to ensure a fair process that takes into account all the reasons why this proposed monopole should not be placed at exit 7 or anywhere in Pelham, and that there are viable alternatives. Further, there are several existing monopoles (including at Smash Burger in the Pelham Manor commercial district) in the vicinity of Pelham that can be used for what Verizon needs—since it seems Verizon is specifically asking the DOT for this cell tower.
  • Further, it has come to our attention by comments of the Crown rep that NYSDOT does not conduct its own independent assessment of whether a monopole is needed or not. It is very surprising NYSDOT would rely solely on a (self-interested) report from Verizon and not have its own resources to independently verify what Verizon has presented/proposed to Crown.

Thank you so much for taking the time to review this matter. We are always appreciative, and we look forward to hearing from you both on next steps to help preserve Pelham as the beautiful town it has been and continues to be.

Sincerely,

Maurice Owen-Michaane

457 Siwanoy Place

P.S. Here is a digital link to the petition.