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Community leaders and Avella are demanding that the city and T-Mobile remove the tower, which stands behind a string of businesses near the corner of 35th Avenue and 205th Street. They contend the community was not made properly aware of the tower before its construction, the tower does not belong in a low-rise residential neighborhood and the tower poses a risk to neighborhood children.Janet McEneaney, who lives a couple of blocks from the tower, first noticed the structure on March 17 when she looked out her window and noticed a crane at the site of tower. As an active member in the community, she was surprised she was not told about the upcoming construction beforehand because she thought new buildings in a residential area needed a special permit from the community board.Because the tower is on a commercial block, however, only a permit from the city Buildings Department was needed, Avella said. A permit was issued for the tower on February 14, 2008, according to Buildings Department records. "You can't just plunk something like that in a residential neighborhood whether or not it's in a commercial overlay," she said. "There should have been a meeting with the community."The group is also concerned about a ladder leading to the roof of an adjacent building and subsequently to the tower. McEneaney, who is president of the Northwest Clearview Civic Association, is afraid children from two nearby elementary schools will be tempted to climb the ladder and up the tower.The scientific community is divided over the potential health risk posed by cell phone towers, Avella said, referring to the current debate on whether radiation exposure from such towers causes illness."They said the same thing about asbestos," he said.. "We can't put our children at risk because they don't know."Meanwhile, Wayne Leuck, T-Mobile area director of engineering and operations New York metro, maintains that T-Mobile's towers follow the safety guidelines administered by the Federal Communication Commission and that the tower will ensure area residents have reliable coverage."We have thoughtfully considered potential locations throughout the area where residents would benefit from enhanced wireless coverage and believe our installation at 205-01 35th Avenue strikes an optimal balance between the needs of wireless users and the concerns of residents," Leuck stated in an email.Toward the end of the rally, McEneaney urged community members to speak out against the tower at the upcoming Community Board 11 meeting Monday.Similarly, Avella cited previous instances when towers were removed in the Queens community and said only public pressure would have the clout to force the company to take down the tower."Look, we all have cell phones," he said. "I understand we need the transmission, but why don't we sit down and decide where the towers should be?"
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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