When it comes to fighting the proliferation of cell phone antennas and towers in ones neighborhood, theres power in numbers. Thats why legislators citywide are joining a special coalition formed specifically to regulate cell tower siting. As of this writing, the group, known as the Coalition to Regulate Antennae Safety, is expected to gather together for the first time publicly at City Hall on February 16. The group, which formed at the behest of outgoing Rep. Major Owens, prides itself on being able to cull together opponents of cell phone towers from Bay Ridge, Park Slope, Marine Park, Queens and Staten Island, all of whom have their own personal interests in fighting cell phone towers and antennas in their neighborhoods. Members include residents from Bay Ridge and Marine Park who are fighting tower placements in their neighborhoods. Others joining the fight include residents of 130 8th Avenue in Park Slope, who have gone to court to fight the installation of a cell phone tower on top of their building. I am thrilled to have been mid-wiving this collation, said Leonore Gordon, who lives at 130 8th Ave. I am hoping the coalition of the community and lawmakers will finally put an end to the free ticket that the mobile industry seems to feel that it has to land antennae on rooftops with no checks and balances whatsoever, and with no oversight form the community or local government. Brooklyn political heavies involved in the coalition include Owens son Chris Owens, who recently hosted a meeting of potential members at his fathers office, State Senator Martin Golden, Assemblymember Joan Millman and City Councilmembers Vincent Gentile and Letitia James. All elected officials who have sponsored legislation on procedural issues regarding the siting of cell phone towers have been asked to join the coalition. Joel Kupfenberg, of the Environmental Law Project, and Mitchell Cohen and Kathryn Swan of the No-Spray Coalition are also involved, according to reports. The coalition was formed to address residents fears about the proliferation of antennas in their area, as the electromagnetic emissions may pose a great health risk. Its possible that these towers can cause mental retardation and childhood leukemia, said Chris Proscia, a St. Anselms parent fighting the construction of the antennas across from his childs school. We dont want them to put this in now and ten years later one of your kids comes down with one of these problems, God forbid. Cell phone companies, however, continue to contend that the emissions coming from these antennas are far too low to cause any problems. Officials said that the coalitions main focus will be creating legislation that protects the public from health risks that may result from long-term exposure to radiation from these antennas. Currently, the group is pursuing new policies on wireless antenna placement that will mandate input from community groups and residents before any installations of cellular base stations are approved. We rely upon cellular phone service so much that we have overlooked potential dangers that may be created by the increased demand, said Rep. Owens. There is no scientific evidence to assure us that cell phone antennas and base stations when placed in clusters do not pose a threat to the health and well-being of people, particularly the young, the elderly and the frail. It is far better to be safe than sorry, he said. There are a lot of people out there who feel that we shouldnt talk about cell phone towers since today everyone needs and uses cell phones, added Chris Owens. But the key issue here is about the density of the cell phone towers in residential areas. Its easy for us to say that something like a single cell phone tower is safe, the younger Owens continued. But when you have six or ten or twenty cell phone towers in a given proximity, its hard to believe that the concentration of radiation is good for those who live in that immediate area. The goal is not to get rid of them the goal is to site them safely, he said. The group of elected officials which have assembled to further work to insure that cell phones do not harm Brooklynites is a step in the right direction, said Golden. Throughout Kings County, we have seen the installation and planned installation of cell phone towers divide a community and frighten homeowners and parents of school children. We have an obligation to citizens to get answers to the questions they have. Charles Hack contributed to this story
©2006 Community News Group
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