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Green light for Manhanset Firehouse cell tower

JULIE LANE PHOTO
Commissioner Andy Reeve, waiting for Tuesday’s Town Board vote that approved installation of a cell tower at the Manhanset Firehouse.

Finally.

After four years of intense debate and negotiation, the proposed 120-foot cell tower on the grounds of the Manhanset Firehouse on Cobbetts Lane passed muster with the Town Board Tuesday.

The vote was 4-0, with Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams abstaining because she is secretary-treasurer of the Fire District, creating a potential conflict of interest.

The approval to grant a special permit necessary to install a tower at the site still needs a Zoning Board of Appeals variance for placement 26 feet from the rear lot line instead of the required 30 feet and for ground-level equipment to be installed.

Negotiations between John Coughlin, the attorney for the Fire Department, Elite Towers, which is building the structure, and Verizon, which will install a commercial antenna, and an attorney hired by David Harms, whose property adjoins the site, took a few weeks to arrive at an agreement to establish and maintain certain sound levels for the facility.

Critical to that agreement is that a decibel level be maintained regardless of the number of antennas that might be placed on the tower and generators and other equipment related to them.

From the outset — even though neighbors of the firehouse originally fought to block construction — the argument that the tower was needed for safety purposes to ensure firefighters could communicate clearly and call for backup support when needed won the day with the Town Board and was expected to gain the ZBA’s backing.

The Fire District is to receive $100,000 for allowing the tower to be placed on its property and will be part of a 50-50 split of fees from companies putting antennas on the tower.

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