Homeland Towers and Verizon Wireless have submitted an application to the Village of Mount Kisco for a 145-foot monopole on a parcel near the Bedford border to bring better wireless service to the area.
An accompanying letter dated Aug. 18 from attorney Robert Gaudioso, representing the applicants, stated that his clients are seeking a special use permit, a steep slopes permit and site plan approval to erect the pole at 180 S. Bedford Rd. The location is part of the same 25-acre parcel near Sarles Street where a 2.5-million-kilowatt ground-mounted solar panel array has also been proposed.
The issue has been placed on the agenda for Tuesday evening’s Planning Board meeting.
Gaudioso stated in the Aug. 18 letter to the Planning Board that although the tower would be about 5,500 feet outside the Personal Wireless Service Facilities Overlay District, the application meets several requirements that should allow for its passage.
“Therefore, because the Applicants have demonstrated that the proposed Facility satisfies the four enumerated requirements…for a personal wireless facility located outside of the Overlay District, we respectfully submit that the application has met all applicable special permit criteria and that the special use permit should approved,” a portion of Gaudioso’s letter read.
The four criteria includes that the facility is needed to provide coverage to an area of the village that has inadequate service and is of minimum height and intrusion to provide the service; that the service cannot be provided within the overlay district; that all steps to find a place for the monopole within the overlay district has been exhausted; and that technical or space limitations prevents the structure from being collocated within the district.
Verizon has an existing tower at 304 Lexington Ave. but that site as well as other locations in the overlay district will not solve the gaps in service elsewhere in the village.
The application is certain to spark additional backlash from neighbors in Mount Kisco and Bedford. It was revealed at the July 14 public hearing on the solar farm as well as in the pre-meeting packet that was posted online several days earlier that the owner of the property, Skull Island Partners, was also looking to lease another portion of the site for the cell tower.
Residents who spoke at the hearing urged the board that the two applications have to be considered in tandem with respect to impacts on the neighborhood.
Mount Kisco Conservation Advisory Council Chairman John Rhodes said that the CAC has serious concerns about both applications whether such a high-impact use is suitable for the Conservation Development District and a residential neighborhood.
“We also believe that the two applications should be reviewed together for the purposes of environmental impact analysis, since they would have a significant cumulative negative impact on the local environment,” Rhodes said. “We also believe that the Planning Board should issue a positive declaration and require the preparation of a Full Environmental Impact Statement, and independent experts should be called upon to review all the applicants’ claims and submissions.”
There has been no determination by the village whether the two applications should be reviewed together or segmented.
William Null, the attorney for Sunrise Community Solar, which is looking to install the solar farm at the site, contended at the July 14 hearing that the applications should be reviewed separately because the “only similarity between the two actions is they are located adjacent to one another, yet they are distinctly different.”
However, an attorney for the 86 homeowners at the nearby Mount Kisco Chase Homeowners Association said segmented review is inconsistent with the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the municipality’s zoning ordinance.
A Aug. 29 letter from residents Gerard and Beth Romski argued that when Mount Kisco Chase was built it required a full environmental review under SEQRA, and that should be required for both applications. Removal of close to 700 trees on the property will be needed to accommodate the solar farm.
“How anyone with even a basic knowledge of SEQRA, can ignore this clear and obvious distinction and argue with a straight face that the solar plant applications – with all their significant negative impacts – should receive a Negative Declaration, is simply remarkable and demonstrates how far the Applicant and its counsel will to mislead the public,” the Romskis’ letter stated.
The Planning Board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Meetings have been televised as well as live-streamed on the Village of Mount Kisco Facebook page.
The hearing on the solar farm is scheduled to resume at the board’s Sept. 22 meeting.