City approves cell phone tower construction on Maspeth roof

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Despite much protest from the community, the city Board of Standards and Appeals approved a communications company’s variance request last Thursday to build a cell phone tower on a residential roof in Maspeth, setting what many fear is a precedent for the antennas in residential zones.

The commission voted 4−0 in favor of the project, which originally included a 54−foot tower made to resemble a flagpole. The plan now calls for a 13−foot antenna with no flagpole on the roof of the house at 53−20 72nd Place, according to the BSA.

“The proposed pole and related equipment will be located, designed and operated so that there will be no detrimental effect on the privacy, quiet, light and air of the neighborho­od,” the board said in its ruling.

Omnipoint attorneys had asked for a three−month adjournment of the application in August to make revisions in the plan.

State Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D−Maspeth) said she was angered by the BSA’s ruling.

“It is an inappropriate intrusion on a peaceful residential block and it should not have been permitted,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to strongly oppose any other plan that seeks a place a cell tower on any residential block in my district.”

The ruling also angered Community Board 5, many of whom thought that the antenna belonged in a nearby commercial district.

“We really feel they did not put sufficient work into looking at putting it two blocks away,” CB 5 Land Use Committee Chairman Walter Sanchez said.

CB 5 member Manny Caruana warned Omnipoint’s victory would set the stage for similar projects.

“If they’re allowed to build cell towers in a residential district, then it’s the wild, wild West,” he said.

At a recent CB 5 meeting, Chairman Vincent Arcuri also warned that cell phone companies were beginning to put up cell towers without permits in Glendale and Middle Village.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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