By Howard Koplowitz
Buoyed by concern that the effects from cell phone antennas are harmful, Community Board 13 narrowly voted Monday against a proposal by a cellular phone service provider to construct an antenna on top of a sixâˆ’story apartment building in Bellerose.
Metro PCS, a company that recently received licenses from the Federal Communications Commission to build a cell phone network in the state, said an antenna is needed to fix a gap in service in the area for its customers.
The building at 222âˆ’89 Braddock Ave. where Metro PCS wants to install the antenna already has antennas from Verizon, Nextel and the city Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications on the roof.
Dan Collins, an independent consultant working for Metro PCS, said the combination of effects from radiation emanating from the existing and proposed antennas constitutes 1.8 percent of the allowable standard mandated by the FCC, or 54 times lower than the FCC limit.
By comparison, the effects from electronic equipment plugged in a standard apartment represents 5 percent of the standard, he said.
But some CB 13 members were skeptical of Collins’ findings.
CB 13 member Jim Goldston said he was reluctant to believe Collins because he made the calculations himself. But Collins said the data is based on an FCC formula.
“You’re telling me to believe you?” Goldston said.
“The more I listen to them, the more I become against them,” said CB 13 member Seymour Finkelstein, referring to cell phone companies. “I feel that these antennas shouldn’t be in our neighborhood with our children and our schools.”
CB 13 member Swaranjit Singh said he was worried about the number of antennas on the roof of the Bellerose building if the Metro PCS antenna is approved.
“Where is the limit? That is the biggest concern that our board has,” he said.
In an attempt to alleviate concerns that the antennas on the building look unsightly, an architect working for Metro PCS proposed an alternate design that would use brickâˆ’face screening to disguise the antennas.
“This building is getting ugly with all these white antennas going up,” said CB 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht.
A motion to reject the antenna plan came to a tie vote with 14 against the proposal, 12 for it and two abstentions, which had the same effect as “no” votes, causing the tie. The rules governing community boards state that the number of “yes” votes wins in the case of a tie, meaning the plan was rejected by the board because the motion was a negative one.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by eâˆ’mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 173.