New cell phone tower opposed in Laurelton

By Juan Soto

Residents in Laurelton are up in arms.

They are opposing the installation of a 60-foot cellular tower by Verizon at 229th Street and Merrick Boulevard, an area filled with small stores and two-story houses.

Neighbors are concerned about health, noise and landscape issues.

“Radiation comes from those towers,” claimed Bess DeBetham, a Community Board 13 member and an area resident. “I am a cancer survivor, and I just don’t want the cell tower 100 feet away from me.”

City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said home and business owners have a lot of questions about the proposed infrastructure.

“We have a lot of concerns and we hope they just don’t force this one down the community’s throat,” he said.

People fear cell towers because of their radiation, but there is no real scientific evidence that they pose a risk to humans’ health.

According to the American Cancer Association’s website, “there is very little evidence to support” the notion that living or working near cellphone towers might increase the risk of cancer or other health problems.”

Besides health concerns, the lawmaker pointed out that about 10 years ago, the area was rezoned “to protect the character of the neighborhood.” He added that “a cell tower that tall” is not compatible with the area.

“That cell tower will be the tallest thing around here,” DeBetham. said “And then, here is the noise from the generator.”

Verizon claims the cell post is needed to keep providing reliable services to its clients.

“We are constantly exploring opportunities to improve our network,” said David Samberg, a spokesman for the wireless company.

He added that last year Verizon Wireless invested more than $400 million in network enhancements in the New York metropolitan area.

On June 23, CB 13 will give its recommendation on the tower to the city Board of Standards and Appeals.

Neighbors will make their voices clear at the meeting.

“We will do whatever necessary to prevent this from happening,” DeBetham said. “Neighbors will come out when the community board has to vote on this issue.”

The spokesman for Verizon said the company “follows, and sometimes exceeds, all local, state and federal guidelines.”

He added that cellular technology has been in commercial use for more than 30 years.

“Today, cell antennas are so commonplace that they can be found on churches, hospitals, shopping malls, schools … and even the halls of Congress,” said Samberg.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.