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Shareholders Association Meetings Discusses Roof Antennae, Highlights New Relationship With Board

During a meeting to discuss the situation with the rooftop antennae on the three buildings of North Shore Towers, the Shareholders Association and members of the Board of Directors spoke about a commitment to work together.
The association’s president, Barbara Leonardi, referred to the July 16 meeting as “a precedent-setting night.” In attendance during the meeting were Board of Directors members Bob Ricken, Herb Cooper, Claire Levitan, Mort Gitter and Murray Lewinter. Levitan will act as a liaison between the Shareholder’s Association and Board of Directors.
“This is a special night for all of us,” Board President Ricken said, adding that it marked the “first time in history” that the Board and association are working together. “We hope that this kind of collaboration will end a lot of the animosity that’s taken place. I hope that our relationship will only grow.”
The meeting continued with a discussion about the rooftop antennae. Cooper, who is heading a subcommittee that is working on the issue, explained that the Towers had entered into a 99-year contract 20 years ago with Continental Communications to lease out the roofs to install antennae. There are now an estimated 250 antennae on the roofs.
“The original permit in 1988 is still the permit that presently governs this installation is, and I’m reading from the permit, ‘radio and television towers as non-accessory uses in R32 zoning districts,’ ” Cooper said. “We believe, my committee believes, that there are various radio towers on top of the roof…but relatively few, if any, television towers or TV transmitting equipment on the roof. However, there are substantial numbers of other types of transmitting dishes on the roof.”
Along with questions being raised about the exact number of antennae and the kinds that are on the roof, some are also questioning if there is any excess radiation. Cooper said that the Board will be hiring a communication engineer to find all of this information out.
The last time that North Shore Towers did their own study was in November of 2003. When the report was made in December of that year, it was stated that no excess radiation had been found. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) showed up for an announced visit on March 3, 2008 and examined all three rooftops, also reporting that there was no excess radiation.
The company originally received a permit in March of 1988. Their most recent permit expired on March 28, 2008 and they are now seeking a new one from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). Although the vote was supposed to take place on June 24, it has now been delayed until August 21.
North Shore Towers has the support of Community Board 13. During a June 23 meeting, it voted 35-0 that BSA either delay approval of the new permit or that they reject it entirely.
To talk about the situation, Councilmembers James Gennaro and Peter Vallone, Jr. and brother Paul Vallone were on hand. Councilmember Vallone spoke about the work he did as one of the first individuals to fight against cell phone towers, as well as other towers. He went on to introduce two related bills, one of which had the city study the matter and a second that required a record of such towers. Vallone said that he is now trying to get support for a bill that would require getting input from the community about where they could be placed.
Vallone said that in 1996 a federal government telecommunications act was passed that said such towers could not be restricted because of health reasons, although the act was based on studies that had been done in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
“Until we know the health effects of these things we need to be very careful about where they’re placed,” he said.
Following the formal presentations, Gennaro said that North Shore Towers should come up with a consensus about what they want to do in regards to the situation. Paul Vallone added that they should never give up. He also pointed out that there is a new fire safety code stating that roofs cannot be occupied by more than five percent of their square footage, which could be a source of violation.
Eric Palatnik, who has been hired to handle the Continental Communications’ permit renewal, said that he heard people express health and safety concerns at the Community Board meeting, although he said that was beyond land use operations. He said that such concerns would have to be taken up with the FCC.

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