AT&T’s proposed 185-foot tall monopole cell phone tower at the former brush dump off Old Northwest Road in the Northwest Woods area of East Hampton appears to be anything but a done deal.
Andrew Campanelli, the attorney for several of the neighbors who own properties on Bull Path, adjacent to the site, warned his clients are likely to sue the town in both state and federal court over the approvals. The tower is slated to be erected about 110 yards behind the new East Hampton Fire Department emergency substation still under construction after being fast-tracked toward approval.
The attorney said he may go even further, suing individual members of the town’s planning board for being fiduciarily irresponsible by taking action he says will reduce the value of his clients’ properties anywhere from $750,000 to over $1 million. The planning board will hold a public hearing on the application Wednesday, February 5, at 6:30 PM.
According to both Campanelli and attorney David Kirst, who represents another neighbor in opposition to the monopole tower, the 100-foot elevation of the location where it is to be erected, compared to 50-foot elevation of the neighboring residences on Bull Path, will make it a 225-foot-tall tower relative to the neighboring properties. “That is 11 stories tall,” Campanelli said, calling the application the “worst” he has ever seen.
The monopole is being constructed by AT&T as part of a settlement between the communications giant and the town, whose planning board had rejected the largest provider of mobile telephone services’ proposal to attach antennas to the side of the wind turbine tower at Iacono Farm on Long Lane in 2017. That denial by the planning board was contrary to federal law, AT&T said in its lawsuit filed against the town and its planning and architectural review boards, as well as the town’s building department.
As part of the settlement the town needs to complete all needed permits within 60 days of the application filed by AT&T for the new location at the brush dump. Any delay and AT&T could return to its preferred site and install the antennas. That deadline is February 19, according to the town’s building department. It’s not the only way for AT&T to return to Iacono Farm, however. In her written order finalizing the deal, United States Eastern District Court of New York Chief Justice Dora Irizarry wrote if the new location is challenged with a lawsuit and it’s not resolved within 90 days of the date for approval, AT&T, “at its sole discretion, may deem the application for the brush dump facility to have been denied … and shall be authorized to construct at the Iacono Farm facility.”
The planning board issued an environmental assessment for the project on January 15. Eric Schantz, the town’s senior planner, told the board, “We don’t know what they are going to find when they begin excavation,” because the site, a dump in the 1970s, was used in that capacity for over 20 years. If the assessment unveils environmental issues, Schantz said it would fall under the purview of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. AT&T could return to the Iacono site if there is a DEC delay.
On January 28, members of the town’s zoning board of appeals instructed town attorney NancyLynn Thiele to write a determination approving the three variances the project needed to proceed. At a public hearing January 21, four neighbors, along with the two attorneys, spoke in opposition to granting the variances. The zoning board was scheduled to officially grant the variances requested on February 4. The variances were needed because the height was being increase from 160 to 185 feet to accommodate the town’s emergency communication equipment.