New York – Queens Assemblywoman Margaret Markey led a contingent of Queens residents to the offices of the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals today to speak against the location of a cell phone transmitter on a residential block in Maspeth.
The forum was a public hearing by the city commission on a variance application by Omnipoint Communications, Inc. (T-Mobile) to permit construction of a “flagpole style” cell phone transmitter that would be mounted on the roof of a residential building at 53-20 72nd Place, making it a total of 56 feet high, the equivalent of five story building in a neighborhood of one and two family homes.
“I am here with a delegation of property owners, community leaders and residents of the immediate neighborhood to speak out in the strongest terms against this proposal. It’s clearly a matter of aesthetics. All of us in the community agree it will look odd – strange – and unsightly. It is wrong for a residential neighborhood,” Assemblywoman Markey said as the first speaker at the public hearing.
Over recent months the cell phone tower proposal has been opposed by local civic organizations, Community Board Five, the Queens Borough Board and every public official representing the area, including Borough President Helen Marshall and Congressman Joseph Crowley.
The Maspeth delegation of 25 local residents and neighbors from the affected block met at Maspeth Town Hall and traveled by bus to Manhattan, carrying petitions with some 1,300 signatures to add weight to their protest.
“One of the reasons I believe this proposed tower should be shifted to another location is that, according to T-Mobile’s own public data, the Maspeth community already has the highest quality cellular telephone coverage offered by this firm,” Assemblywoman Markey testified. “According to T-Mobile’s own website its signal strength is ‘five bars’ – its highest level – at this immediate location and for nearly a mile east and west of this address. Clearly, according to the company’s own public statements, this proposed transmitter has nothing to do with better service for its customers in the community,” she added.
“Our residents are take great pride in their homes and are diligent about their appearance. A tower such as this transmitter structure – however transparently “disguised” as a flag pole – is totally out of place on this block, “ said Assemblywoman Markey. “What is also out of place is the commercialization of the American Flag. This T-Mobile proposal shows an utter disrespect for our flag,” she said.
“Those who live in Maspeth cherish the peace and tranquility of our community. We are all constantly at work to improve it. The location of this proposed Omnipoint transmitter is totally inappropriate and I respectfully ask that the Board of Standards and Appeals vote to deny this application,” Assemblywoman Markey added.
At the close of the January 29th hearing, the Board of Standards and Appeals commissioners requested additional information about the project from Omnipoint representatives, including an explanation about why other locations, including sites in nearby manufacturing areas, would not suit the company’s needs. A new hearing on the proposal was scheduled for April 15, 2008.