By Sean Browne
Mount Kisco officials last week dropped from consideration the potential siting of a cell tower in one of two locations in the village after intense negative feedback from residents vehemently opposed to the plan.
Mayor Gina Picinich said at the start of the discussion at the Jan. 28 meeting that the Village Board wanted to “continue the conversation” about placing a cell tower on either Rolling Ridge Court or at Leonard Park. By the end of the discussion, the board scuttled the proposal.
Homeland Towers, a company that provides wireless infrastructure solutions to meet the needs of municipalities, communities and cellular carriers, talked to officials late last year regarding installation of a tower. Cellular service is weak in some areas of Mount Kisco, an issue that still must be addressed, Picinich said.
“There is a need for more consistent cellular service in some of the southern areas of the village,” Picinich said. “And we also need to set up the cellular infrastructure for our future because there is an intensification of use and an intensification of need.”
The board had asked Homeland Towers to submit a report with the results of a balloon test it had conducted to help its members gauge the approximate height of the tower and what screening would be necessary.
Attorney Robert Gaudioso, representing Homeland Towers, said that the balloon test was completed at the two locations in December. At Leonard Park, the proposed tower would have been 130 feet tall, and 100 feet at the Rolling Ridge Court water tower.
Both locations would have needed an access drive and required the removal of 25 trees.
Guadioso tried to assure the board that a tower in either location would provide sufficient cell service for residents who live in Mount Kisco’s southern portion regardless of their carrier.
But that assurance did little to change the minds of residents who voiced their displeasure about the proposals. John Stockbridge, a resident who lives near the border of Marsh Sanctuary and the water tank where the Rolling Ridge Court tower was proposed, said he has enjoyed what the sanctuary offers. Stockbridge said placing a cell tower there would ruin the landscape.
“With a sanctuary like this is you are on trails, you are looking at nature and you are a part of the environment,” Stockbridge said. “To have a cell tower in there very visibly doesn’t make much sense to us. We are not trying to deny people coverage, we are trying to preserve a sanctuary.”
Residents from the Mount Kisco Chase Homeowners Association addressed the board with their objections to a cell tower at Leonard Park, which would be in close proximity to their houses. Louis Tarnomia, who lives at Mount Kisco Chase, characterized a cell tower at the park as a “misstep.”
“No one wants to have an eyesore literally towering over them in their backyard,” Tarnomia said. “I have heard from countless neighbors in the past month who are worried about their neighborhood being transformed and scarred by a 100-foot tower.”
Residents also worried that a cell tower would have a negative impact on their property values.
Michael Holden, another Mount Kisco Chase resident, was concerned that village residents wouldn’t benefit from the tower.
“When I looked at the new materials it showed that 75 percent of the benefits of improved coverage goes to residents of New Castle and Bedford, not Mount Kisco,” Holden said. “One hundred percent of cost goes to residents, homeowners and taxpayers of Mount Kisco with barely a quarter of the benefits. That is not a good trade in my opinion.”
The board acknowledged that Holden’s claim was accurate, something that was not mentioned by Homeland Towers in its report to the board.
In all, more than 10 residents addressed the board last week, all strongly averse to a cell tower.
The board agreed to short-circuit discussion and consideration about a cell tower at the two locations.
However, Picinich interrupted the crowd’s cheers with a warning about the issue.
“We still have a problem and we don’t have a solution to that problem,” Picnich said. “I do not know how to resolve this problem at this time. Intensification of use is going to create less viability and we still need to find a solution to that.”