Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Long Island Residents Not Keen on Antennas; Vote Postponed for 2nd Time Amidst Many Serious Concerns

Long Island Residents Not Keen on Antennas; Vote Postponed for 2nd Time Amidst Many Serious Concerns

The Incorporated Village of Matinecock, Long Island postponed a vote tonight, for the 2nd time, on a proposed contract with an affiliate of Crown Castle (NYSE-CCI) that would have allowed Crown Castle to install antennas on new and existing utility poles in its quiet residential neighborhoods.

Trustees of the Village agreed to postpone the decision after residents questioned the need for the antennas, and the sensibility of many aspects of the proposed contract. Residents also called for an environmental impact review of the planned antennas.
In light of the Department of the Interior’s recent statement that FCC thermal exposure standards for microwave radiation are not protective of wildlife (which effectively has placed one U.S. Department in conflict with another), a SEQRA Environmental Review would certainly be something the Village should insist on.

Attorneys for Crown Castle objected in earlier correspondence, claiming they have a right to be treated as other providers of telecommunication services have been treated previously with regard to requirements for an environmental review.

Residents presented many other concerns about the proposed contract with Crown Castle. Some were concerned with potential impact on the area’s nature preserves, historic character, unusual species of plants and trees, red tail hawks and horses.

One resident was concerned about the vulnerability of poles in extreme weather conditions, like Hurricane Sandy, when many poles went down, wondering what the RF risks would be in these circumstances. Martine Victor, whose family has been in the Locust Valley area for over 50 years, presented the Trustees with 10 Concerns, summarized here:
  1. No Needs Assessment has been conducted by Crown Castle, raising the questions of whether the poles and antennas are being put up ‘on spec’. She asked why the Village would be enabling this. Victor says “Determining if there is a market need is Business 101”.
  2. Economics of the Transaction. Victor said the complete economics of this situation is not transparent, and until it is clear what Crown Castle would be earning it was premature to decide if the $800 per pole was adequate compensation for the Village. She questioned, given legal expenses for the transaction alone, whether the $800 x 4 poles, or $3,200, could justify the transaction, saying “It might be appropriate for the Village to ask for a portion of the pole construction revenues, and perhaps a higher percentage than 5% of the Adjusted Gross Revenues—even up to 50% given how central the Village properties and cooperation are to the business goals of Crown Castle. Or, it might be more financially attractive for the town to own the poles.” More information was needed on the finances involved, Victor said, and she cautioned the Trustees on the need to do their due diligence on the economics of this transaction, as well as on the contract terms.
  3. Vagueness About What Transmitters the Poles Will be Used For. Victor said the response from Crown Castle was still too vague, and wondered why Crown won’t say exactly who their customers are, or what services the poles will be used for, in writing. She said in an age of corporate and government invasions of our privacy it would be important for us to know who is doing business in our backyard, and that we be comfortable there are no potential for privacy violations. She also said the technical specifications need to be included ‘right up front’ in the contract, as well as a provision for monitoring radiation levels, hot spots, and any increases with the future addition of new antennas. She also said that Crown Castle’s response that the controversial smart grid or WiMax technologies “have not been proposed” was unsatisfactory, and that the language in the contract should specifically exclude these possibilities.
  4. Automatic Approvals of Future Antennas. Victor said the contract, as drafted, would not allow the Village to reject a request by Crown Castle for additional antennas, and that signing the contract as is would give Crown Castle unlimited, long-term rights to keep adding antennas, and with no contract termination provision for the Village. She didn’t understand why the Village would agree to this, and wondered if there was some other motivation.
  5. Possible Negligence by Village Trustees. Victor warned that there would be potential liability for the Village were it not to require an Environmental Review of the potential effects of the antennas on the environment, including the nature preserves and wildlife, especially given the recent statement by the U.S. Department of the Interior that exposure levels are not protective of wildlife.
  6. Ground Level Risks. She said Crown Castle’s response did not adequately address risks for pedestrians, pets and electronic interference with equipment, such as garage doors, electric beds, pace makers, deep brain stimulators in Parkinson’s, taxi radios, etc. from this added layer of electromagnetic fields.
  7. Gas and Fire Risks. Crown Castle’s response was inadequate, she said, in that it did not address if there was a history of any gas or fire risks from the radiation emitted by the antennas. They simply stated they planned to be in compliance, ignoring residents concerns and desires to better understand these risks.
  8. Residents Need to Know Crown Castle’s Intentions for Additional Poles. “We need to know who the service providers are and what Crown’s customers are planning to do here, if Crown Castle is unable to answer the question themselves. We’d like the ‘Full View’ of what is transpiring in our midst.”
  9. The Meaning of  Facilities Being “Unlisted” Still Remains Unclear. Victor said the Crown Castle response did not explain what they meant by their facilities being ‘Unlisted”. In order to evaluate the significance of this, she said this statement needs explaining.
  10. FCC Thermal Guidelines Do Not Apply Here. Victor said the ‘elephant in the room’ is that Crown Castle and other telcom providers mislead us into thinking FCC thermal exposure guidelines apply for non-thermal exposures, such as those coming from wireless antennas.“The guidelines are not for non-thermal radiation emitted by wireless antennas, but for higher power radiation, such as in a microwave oven, or high power EMF exposures right near a tower or antenna, for example.  The non-thermal effects were not considered in establishing the FCC’s thermal guidelines, and so the thermal guidelines would not apply here.” She said the FCC has not yet established non-thermal guidelines, and that until such time as they do, the thermal guidelines only cover any thermal component to a given exposure.
    Victor said, “It is well-understood that there are non-thermal effects of EMFs, including non-linear effects, with distinct ‘windows’ of biological activity, as well as, in some cases,paradoxical effects, where the lower the radiation’s power level, the greater certain effects, such as effects on the brain. So, until the FCC reviews the literature on the non-thermal effects of microwave radiation, and establishes non-thermal exposure guidelines, it is inappropriate to use the FCC’s thermal standards as a gauge to evaluate the safety of the non-thermal effects. Assurances by Crown Castle that the antennas would be in compliance with the limited FCC guidelines needs to be more carefully evaluated and understood by the Village.”
Victor requested the Trustees of the Village of Matinecock allow the time to study this critical subject and not be rushed into premature actions by a commercial entity wishing to convince them that they have answered all important questions, including the non-thermal standards question, when they have not.

ElectromagneticHealth.org has heard residents are being mistakenly told that the Village has no choice in the matter. But an attorney for one resident cited examples from other towns where decisions about antennas were made based on the merits.

A transcript of the meeting will be available at ElectromagneticHealth.org in approximately two weeks, as well as on the Village of Matinecock website at http://www.matinecockvillage.org/.

The next meeting of the Village Trustees on this subject will be held on May 20, 2014.  All interested Matinecock residents are highly encouraged to attend.

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