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Extensive Screening, Plantings Recommended for Mount Kisco Cell Tower Site

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The Mount Kisco Planning Board must determine whether the impacts of a 140-foot-tall cell tower proposed on a 25-acre parcel can be sufficiently mitigated with a series of steps outlined last week by a village consultant.

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Michael Musso, of HDR Engineering, recommended a detailed screening and planting plan in hopes of shielding the tower, if it is erected at 180 S. Bedford Rd., from the community and its immediate neighbors – Marsh Sanctuary to the west and Sarles Street resident Rex Pietrobono to the east.

If the board believes the measures would prevent significant adverse environmental impacts it could issue a negative declaration under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). That would avoid an extensive environmental review that could take upwards of a year for co-applicants Homeland Towers and Verizon.

“The applicant would have to agree to do these mitigation measures. You would make, in that scenario, a negative declaration, which would mean there would not be a full Environmental Impact Statement,” said planner Frank Fish, a planning consultant for the village on the project. “However, if you don’t feel the mitigation measures to that, or if the applicant doesn’t agree to do them, then you might be faced with a positive declaration, which would require a full Environmental Impact Statement.”

Fish told the board at last Tuesday’s meeting there are two potential impacts out of 18 categories listed in Part 2 of the Environmental Assessment Form that could trigger a positive declaration – impact on aesthetic resources and consistency with community character.

A list of extensive steps for off-site and on-site mitigation and the removal of one bypass on the access road leading to the tower for maintenance crews were proposed by Musso. He recommended a stealth tree monopole design and extending the artificial branching downward an extra 15 feet downward to 55 feet above grade level.

Musso also said a tree preservation plan should be submitted with an eye toward preserving the maximum number of trees, including six key trees that are close to 100 feet tall.

“I know there are some complications to it, but Homeland and other tower companies, they work in much more remote areas,” Musso said. “If you think where towers are sited, they’re in very rural areas that are challenging and I think having worked with them on the construction phase of projects, after doing reviews for a municipality, I think they’re more than capable of warrantying some of this tree preservation and really designing their construction logistics in a smart way.”

The consultant also proposed erecting a 10-foot-high dark wood fence around the compound, an increase from eight feet. To mitigate views from Marsh Sanctuary, including shielding the area around the amphitheater and the naturalist’s cottage, Musso suggested inclusion of an eight-foot treated dark brown fence.

In addition to the seven new evergreens on the current plan, a raised soil berm should be included as well. Musso said the idea is to have the tower and the compound blend in as much as possible.

“I think that a lot of the mitigation that we’re looking at is distracting views for people who use or live at the property,” he said.

Additional fencing, berms and plantings along the Sarles Street eastern edge of the property should also be part of the plan.

Attorney Robert Gaudioso said he and his clients received Musso’s detailed report the day before the meeting. He said some of the items have already been agreed to but they should take the next several weeks to review the recommendations extensively and learn what is feasible.

“I think it behooves us and it behooves you to give everyone a month, or at least the majority of the month of March, if we have the Part 2 approved, we can work on this throughout the month of March, come back with a response by the end of the month of March and be in a position to be on your agenda hopefully with some real decision-making in the month of April,” Gaudioso said.

The public hearing on the tower will resume at the Planning Board’s Mar. 14 meeting.

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