Today’s news:

Vallone bill would tighten rules for cell phone towers

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) is calling on the city to allow for greater regulation of cell phone antennas in residential communities as well as giving borough residents more input before a tower is placed in their neighborhood.

The councilman, who introduced a cell tower regulation bill earlier this month, said Astoria residents have long complained about the placement of antennas on residential streets. But he said the uproar over an antenna on an apartment building directly across the street from PS 122’s classrooms on Ditmars Boulevard prompted him to push for stricter regulations.

“What often happens is that landlords have a huge amount of money dangled in front of them, not knowing the potential problems these towers may cause,” Vallone said. “But the cell companies will not let them out of their contracts, so they are locked into them for 20 to 30 years. The companies won’t let them be taken down.”

The Council had passed a bill proposed by Vallone in 2004 that would regulate where cell antennas could be located.

His newest bill, proposed earlier this month, would require cell phone companies to alert a community and its elected officials when a new tower would be installed, provide the community board and Council member with written notice before applying to the city’s Department of Buildings for an installation permit and prove that the company had made an effort to install antennas in non−residential areas.

In addition, Vallone’s bill would require each antenna to have an identification number to enable residents to refer to potential concerns related to the equipment.

“Our goal is not to stop progress — we just want reasonable regulation,” Vallone said. “But we’re opposed by billions of dollars. It is time for New York City to take a stand.”

He said the Council will likely hold a hearing on the legislation in the fall.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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