New Paltz residents are concerned about the proposed wireless communications (cell) tower that may become their newest neighbor.
The tower, which would be 150 feet tall and sit on just over 44 acres, is proposed to be built at 60 Jansen Road. The applicant for this property is Homeland Towers, LLC and Verizon Wireless. Residents are worried about the impact the project will have on their view, property values and health.
“One of the first things clients consider — when I show them a property — is the location, the setting and the views. A 150 foot cell tower looming in the backdrop is not a selling point,” said Victoria Beach, a local real-estate agent who lives across from the potential development site.
This proposed area is currently zoned as residential. Many residents are worried that the tower will be a blemish on an otherwise pleasant view from their kitchen or living spaces.
“We pay a lot of money to live here, and to have a beautiful landscape, and then to stick a commercial tower across the street from somebody’s house I think is wrong,” said Ryan Lauchaire, who owns a property on Sarafian Road just off of Jansen Road.
Residents expressed concern that their property values will decrease if potential buyers see the tower poking out over the trees.
“This tower could have an impact on dozens of homes’ resale value,” Beach said. “I understand both the need for an additional cell tower in our area but I also understand the need to preserve the integrity of residential areas in order to protect the neighboring homeowners’ property values.”
Although Raymond Schilke, who owns the potential tower site, believes this is a good spot for a cell tower because it is an easy to access property that is “far from residences,” his neighbors disagree.
“I don’t know why they need to put it in such a residential area, which would lower everybody’s value,” Lauchaire said. “When somebody goes to buy a house next door, nobody wants to live next door to a cell tower.”
Lauchaire is also afraid of negative health effects from living so close to a cell tower.
Some people fear that cell towers emit harmful radiation that can cause cancer. However, the American Cancer Society says there is no evidence that this is true. Cell towers emit radiofrequency (RF) signals which, unlike x-rays or ultraviolet light, do not damage the actual DNA of body cells and therefore do not cause cancer.
“At ground level near typical cellular base stations, the amount of RF energy is thousands of times less than the limits for safe exposure set by the U.S. Federal Communication Commission and other regulatory authorities,” according to the American Cancer Society. “The amount of exposure from living near a cell phone tower is typically many times lower than the exposure from using a cell phone.”
New Paltz residents are also concerned with the wetlands that are located on the proposed property, and that this project would “encroach upon” the land that creates a necessary buffer between the tower and the wetlands. The applicant submitted paperwork to allow this driveway anyway because the “encroachment will be entirely upon a portion of already disturbed land.”
In order to test concerns with the intrusiveness of the tower, a balloon test is set to happen on Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. after being rescheduled from March 9. This test will include placing a balloon at the approximate location and height as the proposed tower and taking photos from various viewpoints. These photographs will be available to the public so residents can give their input at the next public hearing.
The next Planning Board workshop will take place on Monday, March 23 and their next regular meeting will be on Monday, April 13.