Today’s news:

Maspeth cell tower plan for 6 antennas draws ire of tenants

The subject of cellular phone transmitters was once again the source of conflict at Community Board 5 as a phone company unveiled its plans to install six new antennas on top of an apartment building in Maspeth.

Representatives from Metro PCS, who are seeking a variance to put the transmitters on the residential building, told CB 5 the antennas would be masked by a facade resembling the building’s exterior. Last week’s public hearing will be followed up with an advisory vote from the board next month, which the city Board of Standards and Appeals will take into consideration when it makes its determination.

The six-story structure, at 53-00 65th Place, is the tallest building in the general area, making it desirable for cell companies, three of which already have equipment on the roof. The building was the site of a large fire in December 2008 that resulted in the forced vacancies of five of the building’s 60 apartments. No one was injured, but board member Kathy Masi pointed out that a city Fire Department report on the blaze noted “operations were hampered because of the presence of cell phone equipment.”

Bob Toms, an engineer working for Metro PCS, said the other equipment at the site may have caused some problems.

“I agree 100 percent. The other carriers were irresponsible with what they did,” he said, noting there were few crossover locations among wires strung between equipment boxes. “Our setup is going to be much cleaner.”

But many on the board were not concerned chiefly with accessibility to emergency responders.

“You’re really not wanted in this community,” said board member Manny Caruana. “As much as you can assure us these things are safe, quite honestly, not many of us believe you.”

Susan Cole, who lives in the building, called the current situation “absolutely horrendous,” noting the power the cellular equipment draws taxes the residential wiring of the building.

“We can’t even put on a hair dryer and a blender without blowing a fuse,” she said, noting the co-op building next door has refused to allow any cellular transmitting equipment on its roof.

Building tenant Candida Baez said the property owner has not fixed the five apartments ruined by last year’s fire and complained about the deteriorating condition of the structure.

“I would like to be informed of any gain that is offered us by this condition,” she said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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