Story by Katie Bisaro
Several weeks ago, Verizon Wireless approached the Village of Warwick Board of Trustees with a proposal to put a cell tower atop one of two water towers in the Village: either the water tower on Ridgefield Rd. or the one on Highland Ave. in Warwick NY.
According to a previous presentation by Verizon, the Highland Ave. tank is the optimal location to fill a service gap for the telecommunications company, but Ridgefield Rd. would work as well.
The Board of Trustees asked the representative to look into placing antennas on the towers that already exist on top of St. Anthony Community Hospital rather than erecting new facilities.
At the Village Board meeting on Mon., Dec. 3, the Board briefly discussed the matter again following a response from Verizon which indicated that the company already has a “major” antenna on top of the hospital.
According to Verizon, the proposed secondary antenna sites would take the “load” off the hospital antennas.
Mayor Michael Newhard suggested the Board discuss the issue prior to the submission of any applications for Special Use permits to see if there was a consensus regarding the proposal. In Newhard’s opinion, there was no sense in having Verizon go through the time and expense of the application process if the Board was not going to ultimately approve the project.
Trustee George McManus is not in favor of the proposed sites. He noted that there is a possibility that the Highland Ave. water tank will be removed, and the area could be cleaned up for use by the residents. According to McManus, residents in the Highland Ave. area indicated that they would sell their homes should a tower be erected on that site.
“I think Verizon should find a private enterprise to get space [for] a cell tower,” McManus stated.
Trustee Eileen Patterson pointed out that cell tower sites are typically “hotly contested issues” and questions whether the burden of the vetting process should be on a property owner or should the Village “keep a handle on it”.
The Village has also been approached about allowing small cell installations which are attached to existing utility poles. Trustee Barry Cheney did some research and found that once a company is granted a “first use,” no approvals would be necessary for further installations. He suggested reviewing current zoning regulations to see how they would apply to small cell installations.
Mayor Michael Newhard expressed concern about a proliferation of small cell installations in the business district, which is also part of the historic district of the Village.
“I think it would be smart to be proactive and get some legislation in place that would give us the control that we need,” Newhard said.
Newhard will reach out to the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) to see if there are any model ordinances to use as a guideline. Cheney suggested sending a copy of the Village’s wireless communication section of the zoning ordinance to NYCOM to see if it can be used as a basis for the small cell installations or if something separate is needed.
In the end, it was the consensus of the Board that it would not likely approve Verizon’s proposal.
2019 Village Board Meeting Schedule
For 2019, the Village Board of Trustees will meet regularly on the first and third Mondays of every month.
If a Monday meeting falls on a holiday, that meeting will be held on Tuesday of that week. This will occur three times in 2019: Martin Luther King Day (meeting to be held on Tues., Jan. 22); President’s Day (meeting to be held on Tues., Feb. 19); and Labor Day (meeting to be held on Tues., Sept. 3.
Resolution Passed to Accept Grant
The Village Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution accepting the grant that will help fund the upgrade project for the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The grant, in the amount of $3,062,500, will cover approximately one-quarter of the total $12 million projected cost of the project.
The grant was received from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.
The Mayor has been authorized to execute and submit the Acknowledgement and Acceptance documents as well as any other related documents regarding this grant.
Brush Pile Closed for Season & Santa’s Toy Box
Trustee Cheney reported that the Brush Pile has been closed for the season.
Mayor Newhard reported that the annual toy drive for children of Orange County, Santa’s Toy Box, is currently underway. The Village of Warwick is a collection point for this program. New, unwrapped toys may be dropped off in the vestibule of Village Hall until Fri., Dec. 21.