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A proposed cell phone tower in Canarsie will be considerably less patriotic—but still remains quite controversial. Initially proposed as a tower disguised as a 52-foot illuminated flagpole, the tower will now be unadorned by Old Glory. Mary Anne Sallustro, president of the South Canarsie Civic Association (SCCA), attended a March 11 Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) hearing on the matter, where she heard cell company representatives relay the news. In an apparent concession to critics who have blasted the pole’s aesthetics, Omnipoint Communicat­ions’ tower, proposed for a two-story builidng at 1595 Canarsie Road, won’t be illuminated either. Sallustro, who lives a block away from the proposed tower, said she is unimpressed that the tower will no longer look like a flagpole. A cell tower, she said, is still a cell tower. “It’s the same thing, isn’t it?” she asked. Sallustro’s group, and other Canarsie organizations, like the United Canarsie South Civic Association, have been adamant that the cell tower has no place on a residential block, that it could lower property values, and—while no conclusive study yet exists—that it may present a health risk. “We are the little people here,” she continued. Who listens to us?” In testimony submitted to the BSA, Steven Kaye, the vice president of the SCCA, cited inconclusive studies as reason enough to reject the proposal. “People residing in homes in a residential community should not be bathed in potentially dangerous radiation 24 hours a day, seven days a week because a communications company wants to build a radio tower in a residential neighborhood,” Kaye stated. “Canarsie does not need or want a tower that is out of character to our community and also has the potential to expose residents to additional electromagnetic radiation in the radio wave spectrum,” he added. Because the Canarsie Road property sits in an area zoned for residential use, Omnipoint will need a special permit granted by the BSA in order to build the pole. The BSA will hand down its decision on the matter by May 16 of this year. In December, Community Board 18 overwhelmingly rejected the proposal. Omnipoint attorney Robert Gaudioso has said that all nearby sites stand too close to already existing towers. Placing a tower at an alternative site would fail provide adequate coverage, which he has said the company is striving to improve. The attorney, who critics say has failed to meet with any of the local civic organizations, has pointed to the American Cancer Society, whose position is that cell towers are not likely to cause cancer. Omnipoint was bought in 2000 by VoiceStream Wireless, later named T-Mobile USA. At press time, a T-Mobile spokesperson did not return a call for comment. “If we don’t win this, we all lose,” Sallustro warned. “It’s precedent making.”

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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