GovernmentThe Examiner

Vote Appears Likely on Controversial Mt. Kisco Cell Tower in August

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The Mount Kisco Planning Board appears likely to take a vote on the controversial cell tower proposal next month after receiving a draft resolution last week that outlines 59 detailed conditions the applicant must follow.

After three years of tense debate within the village, Homeland Towers may be on the verge of receiving approvals on Aug. 8 after last week’s correspondence spelled out the conditions that the applicant, Village Attorney Whitney Singleton and the village’s consulting engineer Michael Musso drew up to reduce the impacts of the 140-foot monopole at the 25-acre parcel located at 180 S. Bedford Rd.

Key conditions relate mainly to the monopole’s appearance, including the design of the tower and the accompanying compound structure, landscaping, off-site mitigation, steps to follow during construction and ongoing maintenance.

The board could have voted on the resolution at its July 11 meeting, but the draft resolution had been delivered to members shortly before the start of the meeting. Board Co-chair Michael McGuirk expressed the sentiment of the remaining members stating that he didn’t want to move forward without reading the resolution.

Singleton said the board should feel comfortable before it makes its decision.

“I can state that from my perspective, the rationale underlying your board’s determination to approve this cell tower is pretty substantial and I think it’s well-crafted and I think that the conditions, which Mr. Musso and I spent a lot of time on, adequately addressed the concerns or anticipate and addresses the concerns of your board,” Singleton explained. “But ultimately it’s your board making the decision and you should feel comfortable with each and every one of these conditions, not only as to the scope of these conditions but to the specificity of them.”

The resolution came in two rounds, a few minutes before 5 p.m. and the other about five minutes before the start of the board’s 7 p.m. work session, which immediately preceded its regular meeting.

Before the listing of the conditions, the resolution stated that consultants retained by both Homeland and the village, demonstrated that there is a coverage gap along the South Bedford Road corridor and the tower at that location would remedy the situation.

“After exhaustive analysis by the Applicants, this Board and its consultants, it has demonstrated that a gap in service presently exists, as supported by multiple RF need justification reports, including field drive testing and computer coverage modeling,” the resolution stated.

The resolution also noted that other potential sites, such as the roof of Northern Westchester Hospital and a private property at Linden Lane, would have provided inferior service to 180 S. Bedford Rd. It also mentioned how the village, after intense community opposition, decided against placing a tower in Leonard Park.

Musso said he believed the conditions that are part of the resolution are “robust and inclusive of everything that we’re talking about.”

In previous meetings, Musso and planning consultant Frank Fish said the only possible significant adverse environmental impact might be community character, relating to the state environmental review.

Over the past three years representatives from the neighboring Marsh Sanctuary have objected to the site for the tower along with the closest private resident, Rex Pietrobono on Sarles Street. Earlier on, there was also opposition from residents at the nearby Mount Kisco Chase condominium complex.

To help mitigate impacts, faux bark is slated to be applied to the monopole for the first 60 feet from the ground and least three branches per foot will start at the 55-foot mark. There would also be covering for the antennas.

A 10-foot-tall northern cedar Shadowbox-style fence would be placed entirely around the town and the compound, which will house equipment. There will be eight-foot fencing around the entire property.

The project would force the removal of 43 trees, but the Planning Board is requiring 75 replacement trees be planted. The applicant would plant 46 new trees on the property with another 18 off-site to help shield the compound and the lower portions of the tower as part of mitigation for the Pietrobono residence and the Marsh Sanctuary naturalist’s cottage. Homeland Towers would pay into the village’s tree fund an unspecified amount to cover the 11-tree deficit.

Attorney Robert Gaudioso, representing Homeland Towers, said he understood that the board needed time to read the draft resolution, but hoped that there could be a vote on the site plan and special permit approval at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 8. He said that in his experience representing telecommunications providers, he’s never seen such an extensive list of conditions.

“We want the board to know what it’s voting on,” Gaudioso said. “We think we’re in a good place and moving in the right direction.”

However, Gaudioso said he doesn’t want to see re-litigation of the same issues.

“It’s really not a negotiation,” he said. “There are items on the record. “It’s been a long record. I think you are all well-aware of that.

The board agreed that any comments and questions be submitted by the end of this week and forwarded to both the village’s and applicant’s consultants by early next week, two weeks in advance of the next meeting.

A ground-mounted solar array has also been proposed for another portion of the same property, but that application has not been discussed in months.

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