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Jun 10, 2011 5:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

T-Mobile Postpones Public Hearings On East Quogue Cell Towers; Changes Planned

Jun 16, 2011 4:31 PM

A pair of public hearings on a plan to install two cellphone towers on fire department properties in East Quogue were abruptly canceled last week so that the applicant can make significant changes to the proposal, including the possibility of erecting only one tower.

The presubmission hearings—which were scheduled for June 9—involved the application to install two T-Mobile cellphone towers, one at the East Quogue Firehouse on Montauk Highway and the other at the fire department substation on Head of Lots Road. The 100-foot-tall towers would be equipped with separate antennas designed to remedy shoddy communications that have plagued fire department and other emergency response personnel in the hamlet, according to Fire Commissioner Allyn Jackson.

Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty said on Tuesday that the hearing on the application, filed by the T-Mobile and the East Quogue Fire District, was cancelled “at the 11th hour.” Mr. Finnerty said he believes that T-Mobile might be reconsidering its original plan following a Planning Board work session held late last month in which members asked if two cell towers were necessary to remedy the fire department’s communication troubles.

“Fire Commissioner Allyn Jackson was describing the need for the primary tower on Montauk Highway,” Mr. Finnerty said. “But when we pressed him a little more on the second tower, he pretty much admitted that the district could live without that—that it’s not vital to their operation.”

Mr. Jackson said this week that the fire district will not comment on T-Mobile’s modifications until the new plan is formally unveiled, adding that they are awaiting a time frame from the company as to when the new plans would be completed. The commissioner did say that fire district officials had been looking into the possibility of installing its own tower at the Montauk Highway firehouse before they were approached by T-Mobile, and that the option was still on the table if plans with the company stalled.

“We have been clear from the beginning we need one tower,” Mr. Jackson said. “[T-Mobile] is rethinking their approach on what their needs would be. We are waiting for them to give us a final thought on downsizing.”

The commissioner previously said that it would cost fire district taxpayers $180,000 to install a cell tower.

A representative for T-Mobile confirmed this week that the company was revamping its current plan, but declined to provide details.

Under the original plan, the fire district would collect $48,000 in annual rent from T-Mobile—or $2,000 per tower, per month. That money could help reduce the fire district’s tax rate, Mr. Jackson previously said.

The application for two towers evoked strong emotions from two local civic groups last Wednesday, June 8, when members gathered to discuss the proposed application a day before the presubmission hearing.

East Quogue Civic Association President Jason Corrado said last Wednesday that members of his organization did not support T-Mobile’s plan, and he asked members of the hamlet’s Citizens Advisory Committee to take a stance on the issue. Joan Hughes, the chairwoman of the CAC, said her group did not have enough information yet to decide if they support or oppose the application. She also said she did not know if hamlet taxpayers would be able to pay for a new tower for the fire department.

“We want to listen to what [T-Mobile] has to say, but we have to ask exactly what the fire department has done to improve signal,” Mr. Corrado said.

Al Algieri, a member of the civic association, added: “We are in favor of the fire department getting a fair deal. But we want to know what the fire department pursued as a plan before T-Mobile.”

Under the original plan, T-Mobile would have signed a five-year lease with the fire department, though that accord could have been extended up to 30 years. Some hamlet residents said they are concerned that T-Mobile would eventually sublease its towers to other cell carriers and keep those profits. That could have happened under the original plan.

Staff writer Rohma Abbas contributed to this story.

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... a couple of things:

- Why is Allyn Jackson reluctant to discuss the proposed changes to the deal.? Are
they top-secret? Out with it, bro.

- I would like to see what these things actually look like as opposed to just how tall
they are. My feeling is that they are monstrosities and will be too big for the sites.

- Has the fire department always been aware of radio reception issues in fringe
areas and not done anything about it? That would not be ...more
By William Rodney (558), southampton on Jun 13, 11 9:34 AM
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