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Sep 22, 2010 2:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Proposed cell tower in Westhampton faces hurdles

Sep 22, 2010 2:36 PM

A cell phone carrier will have to clear several hurdles if it plans to secure permission to build a 100-foot-tall monopole in Westhampton.

Representatives of the applicant, T-Mobile, came before the Southampton Town Planning Board on September 9 to ask for a special exception and site plan approval to construct the tower, which would be located near two vacant buildings on the site—a former nightclub and motel. The property is located at 91 Montauk Highway and falls in the town’s motel zoning district.

But Planning Board members cited concerns with the current plan, noting that the application did not comply with necessary “fall zone” requirements. That requirement dictates that a wireless transmission structure is set back from all adjoining property lines at a distance that is equal to at least 100 percent of the height of the structure, according to Southampton Town Code. That’s essentially to protect against harming anyone should the structure fall, said Planning Board Chairman Dennis Finnerty.

Mr. Finnerty said he could not recall how far set back the monopole was from the property lines as indicated in the current application, but he said that it fell short of setback requirements by “a significant amount.”

“It appears from what they indicated, they’re going to have an uphill battle,” Mr. Finnerty said.

Keith Patrick Brown, of Brown & Altman, LLP, in Melville, represented T-Mobile at the recent public hearing. He told Planning Board members that the monopole would supply coverage to more T-Mobile carriers in an age that is increasingly requiring it due to heavy data transmissions. He also said the monopole will close a gap in current coverage.

“It’s no easy task to both work with technology and work within the confines of planning code,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Brown noted that the structure, if constructed, will be shielded from view.

Hank Beck, co-chair of Citizens Advisory Committee-West, voiced concerns that the cell phone tower was too tall—noting that it was 20 feet taller than the flagpole in town.

Mr. Finnerty said the Planning Board will issue a report in 30 days outlining the challenges of the current application.

“They’ve got their work cut out for them,” he said.

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Other carriers have used existing structures to not only achieve the height they need for these transmission stations but also to conceal them. There is a perfectly good church steeple at the United Methodist Church not more than a quarter-mile from the proposed site. Not only would the installation be invisible but paying the church rent would help the community at large. It’s fortunate that the Planning Board did not just role-over. Maybe T-Mobile should realize this is not Nassau or Queens and ...more
By Resident (42), Westhampton Beach on Sep 23, 10 6:57 AM
The Church is 1.5 miles away... which believe it or not in the cell phone tower business is a long distance. And I'm guessing T-mobile has an antennae in WHB already.

Furthermore, the Town would not suggest they look at moving it to the village because the Town would lose out on possible tax revenue. A far better location for this would be the now empty car dealership directly to the East. It's more of a commercial property and much larger which could adequately handle a 100' tower ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 23, 10 12:22 PM
The article says the tower would be located near two vacant buildings. Based upon the address the one vacant would be the old Sand Bar/Surf Club, but the WH Motel adjacent is still operational and not vacant.
By CommonSense (71), Southampton on Sep 23, 10 9:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Westhampton SeaBreeze Motel is very much occupying our building - in fact we are constantly replacing and renovating so that our guests have a great experience with us.

Yes, this is a shameless plug, but warranted I think after the Press reports our property as vacant!

By seabreezemotel (1), Westhampton on Sep 23, 10 11:18 AM
Nature has no idea what church the article referring to. The church is a 1/4 mile away and nowhere near the Village. Please do not comment when you have no idea what you are talking about. Thank you.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Sep 23, 10 3:31 PM
My mistake - I googled methodist church, westhampton beach instead of methodist church westhampton. You are correct. However, it is likely that church is zoned residential which would not allow for a cell-tower. I'm all for putting a cell tower in a church steeple, but there is probably a reason they aren't proposing it there (zoning is my guess)
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Sep 23, 10 4:14 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By OnQuiogue (5), Westhampton Beach on Sep 24, 10 6:57 PM
As a telecommunications engineer going on 25 years and a lifelong resident of Quiogue and 5th generation local I would like to comment on this tower situation. Having worked with many cell companies I can say from experience that T-mobile is a rogue company. They place cell sites in the worst locations and are frequently turned down for permits.I am aware that they are looking to place another tower along the Sunrise Hwy off of Speonk Riverhead Rd and have been turned down for permits on that site. ...more
By OnQuiogue (5), Westhampton Beach on Sep 24, 10 7:01 PM
I hear there is a tower in Quiogue on Old Country Road - was a Coast Guard lookout - maybe T-mobile should consider renting it instead of fussing with a new structure & the hassles.
By mariner (8), Southampton on Sep 25, 10 7:43 AM
"Rouge" doesn't even begin to describe T-Mobiles' activities. In Huntington they didn't even bother to file a building or site plan nor negotiate a lease before constructing a tower. During that time they also ignored a town stop-work order and now they are faced with being forced to remove the tower completely. At the Southampton Planning Board meeting one board member asked their attorney if they had read the Southampton Town cell tower code. Guess what? They hadn't even looked at it at all. Talk ...more
By EastEndHomie (27), Southampton on Sep 25, 10 5:15 PM
No tower. No way.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Sep 27, 10 8:32 PM
Thank you EastEnd68… I should have been more specific; the United Methodist Church is at 116 Montauk Highway in Westhampton. One additional point is that many church steeples now conceal cellular antennas, so the Town would probably be amenable to this as an alternative. It may require ZBA involvement but would likely garner less community opposition. Point in fact is that St Marks in the Village of WHB actually houses two separate installations if I’m not mistaken.
OnQuiogue… You are obviously ...more
By Resident (42), Westhampton Beach on Sep 28, 10 6:59 AM
Seems to me that if weather conditions are enough to knock down a properly built tower then your house is probably kindling anyway.
By Hambone (514), New York on Sep 30, 10 11:10 PM