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Vallone urges notification of plans to build cell tower

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) is calling on the city to alert local communities and their elected officials before a new cell tower or antenna is to be placed on top of a building near residential neighborhoods.

Vallone introduced a bill last week that would include several new requirements for cell phone companies that plan to build towers or antennas on the roofs of buildings. He had first proposed similar legislation six years ago.

“We pushed for the city to list the location of cell antennas and now we are pushing for the community to be notified when carriers are planning to install new antennas,” he said.

The bill would require companies to notify communities when a tower or antenna would be mounted on top of a building, provide the community board and Council member with a written notice before applying for an installation permit with the city Department of Buildings and put an identification number on each antenna to enable residents to link potential concerns to specific equipment.

The companies would also have to prove they first made an effort to install the antenna in a non-residential neighborhood.

“We are not against cell towers, but believe they should be responsibly placed until we are sure of their health effects,” Vallone said. “We don’t want this to be the same situation we had with lead paint and asbestos where everyone assumed they were safe and then we found out years later that they weren’t.”

Western Queens residents have long complained to Community Board 1 about cell towers being constructed on top of buildings across from the street from their homes.

The DOB’s Web site contains a list of cellular antennas in the five boroughs.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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