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Long Island Town Enacts Tough Cell Tower Limits 310

crimeandpunishment writes "They're getting tougher on towers on Long Island. The town of Hempstead, NY has imposed some of the toughest cell phone tower restrictions in the country. The ordinance prohibits wireless equipment within 1,500 feet of homes, schools, day care centers, and houses of worship, unless the company can prove absolute need. A spokesman for Verizon says, 'It's not unheard of for towns to have issues, but this is extreme,' and says this makes 95 percent of the town off limits to future antenna construction." With internet access by 3G, 4G and WiMax getting ever more common, I suspect that not everyone in the town will appreciate blocking out the companies that provide it.
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Long Island Town Enacts Tough Cell Tower Limits

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  • Hempstead (Score:3, Funny)

    by captain_dope_pants ( 842414 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:25AM (#33696282)
    I'm moving there - it'll save me a fortune in tin foil hats. Plus "hemp" + "stead" = a town that grows dope ? Great ! :-)
  • If we impose the 1,500 foot blackout around homes, day care centers, schools and houses of worship, there is what, maybe ONE place to put a tower in Hempstead? Then everyone will complain about crap for signal and bandwidth. More NIMBY at work.,+NY&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=34.313287,86.572266&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Hempstead,+Nassau,+New+York&ll=40.706214,-73.618698&spn=0.032077,0.084543&t []
    • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:55AM (#33696450) Journal

      >>>If we impose the 1,500 foot blackout... there is what, maybe ONE place to put a tower?

      This reminds me of a conversation I had with my art teacher. I said the US Congress has banned incandescent bulbs effective 2012. He immediately pointed out that the law doesn't directly ban incandescents. It requires a 50% reduction in energy usage. I replied that's the same effect as a direct ban because no incandescent can meet that standard, so what's the difference? None.

      Same with this celltower law. It doesn't directly ban the towers, but the 1500 foot limit has the same effect, which I bet was the politicians' plan all along. "We did not ban celltowers in Hempstead." Yeah. Accept that you did because now no towers can be built.

      Aside -

      I consider Edison's incandescent bulbs to be a superior technology to CFLs. Fast turnon, can be used in cold/hot areas (or enclosed fixtures), cost consumers 1/10th to buy, use fewer materials, easy to recycle, and no mercury vapor.

      • Unfortunately, raw materials aren't the bottleneck, where the incandescent would be superior. The energy is the issue, which is why the law addreses efficiency rather than type.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          >>>The energy is the issue

          Yeah but how much energy is saved when I have to make a special trip in my Car to carry the Burned-Out CFL to a special recycling center (due to mercury content). Benjamin Franklin has a saying: "Penny wise and pound foolish." This is the same deal where you're saving a few watts of power and then burning-up kilowatts on disposal costs.

          The incandescent would save more energy overall, because it can just be tossed with all the other garbage and doesnt need special (read:

      • by Phoobarnvaz ( 1030274 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @11:01AM (#33696760)

        Same with this celltower law. It doesn't directly ban the towers, but the 1500 foot limit has the same effect, which I bet was the politicians' plan all along. "We did not ban celltowers in Hempstead." Yeah. Accept that you did because now no towers can be built.

        Had the same issue with power plants in Arizona. During the summer...they can't produce enough power to run the AC...but heaven forbid you want to build more plants or ship in more expensive power from out of state. When you get outages and brownouts...these same people bitch/moan that more power is needed without the plants or raising their electric bills. When the solutions are there in plain view...not in my backyard and you better not obstruct my views either.

        The funniest part of this is the ones crying the loudest about the lack of service are the ones who don't want the plants/towers where they can be seen...even from Pluto.

      • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @11:01AM (#33696762) Homepage

        This reminds me of a conversation I had with my art teacher. I said the US Congress has banned incandescent bulbs effective 2012. He immediately pointed out that the law doesn't directly ban incandescents. It requires a 50% reduction in energy usage. I replied that's the same effect as a direct ban because no incandescent can meet that standard, so what's the difference? None.

        There's a big difference.

        The reason why the law makes an efficiency requirement is because it's not the bulbs themselves that are the concern, but the energy they use. Banning incandescent light bulbs specifically would allow them to be replaced with something even less efficient, if there's an alternative that's cheap and isn't technically an "incandescent light bulb". If that happened, the law would have had the opposite of the desired effect.

        By writing the law that way you don't mandate or exclude any technology. If an incandescent light bulb can be made to be efficient enough, that's just fine.

      • CFL vs Incandescent (Score:3, Informative)

        by sjbe ( 173966 )

        I consider Edison's incandescent bulbs to be a superior technology to CFLs. Fast turnon, can be used in cold/hot areas (or enclosed fixtures), cost consumers 1/10th to buy, use fewer materials, easy to recycle, and no mercury vapor.


        Somewhat off topic I know but I can't resist.

        Let's examine those points you made:

        • You're quite correct that incandescent bulbs turn on faster than CFLs. However CFLs are available that achieve near full brightness nearly instantly and have little/no noticeable warm up period. While there are cases where the difference will matter, most of the time it doesn't. Any fluorescent lighting will work best in environments where they aren't switched on/off frequently.
        • CFLs can be used in both hot and cold areas
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:28AM (#33696302)
    • D&D players must be kept at least 100 meters from jocks at all times to prevent Satanic jinxes from affecting the football team.
    • 6-year-old girls must be kept 10 meters away from 6-year-old boys while in school to prevent transmission of cooties.
    • Doctors administering placebos must pinky-swear that they really work in order to enhance the placebo strength.
    • Fire trucks are prohibited from operating their ladders at more than an 10-degree angle from vertical, to avoid bad luck caused by walking under them.
    • Black cats to be tied up in a sack and thrown into Long Island Sound.
    • "Black cats to be tied up in a sack and thrown into Long Island Sound."

      I think that's standard procedure when Cablevision comes out to fix problems with your service, innit?

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:33AM (#33696334)
    Fact is that your mobile phone will send a stronger signal if it notices that the cell tower is far away, so that the signal can be received there. So if you vary the distance from the cell tower, radiation from the tower will get less when you move further away, but radiation from your phone will get more. There is an optimal spot in between where the total radiation hitting you is minimised.

    I would assume that this optimal point is less than 1500 feet from the tower. If that is the case, then anyone using their phone in these "protected" places will receive more radiation.
    • Your point ignores the fact that your phone is in use for a small fraction of the day but the tower is in constant use. You need to apply a large adjustment on the optimal range for this.

      • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @10:30AM (#33696598) Homepage

        Mom? Is that you? Because everyone else I know leaves their cell phone on all the time.

        • Of course people do. But when your phone is on it sends occasional handshake messages to the tower. The tower will be contacting many phones which are making calls so it has a much higher average (mean average) signal strength.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
        Your phone does a periodic handshake with the tower, so that the operator knows which cell to route your calls to. If the cell is far away, this handshake has to be much stronger. You can test this quite easily by watching how much battery life suffers on a phone in standby mode when the signal strength is low.
        • I know this happens but the total radiation from the occasional handshake is far less than a phone call and the tower will be handling calls all of the time.

  • Administrators don't want antennas close to homes but they probably want their citizens to be able to use mobile phones inside their homes. One would think about upping the power but you can't have too high levels close to the antennas. Furthermore the higher bandwidth you want, the smaller you have to keep the cell radius. I wonder if they'll be able to use anything more than 2G there but I'm sure people will be blaming the operators.
  • so, maybe they can form a religion around these towers and hold services?

  • And it would like to point out that the article starts by pointing out that this applies to new tower construction. It does not mean that existing towers must come down.
  • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:44AM (#33696386) Homepage

    Assuming signal strength is somehow harmful, they're doing the exactly wrong thing to deal with it.

    By imposing those limits, they force towers to be further apart. To cover the area anyway they'll have to bring the power way up. The schools, daycare centers and so on will probably get about the same amount of RF as before, but whatever is near that tower will get cooked. And for those who protest the aesthetics, it's going to be a big ugly one as well.

    What they should be doing instead is peppering the area with a weak tower on every roof. Then they can have coverage without strong emitters anywhere.

    • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @10:26AM (#33696590)
      Also, in order to communicate with the distant tower, the actual cell phone (the thing that delivers the most radiation to your head) must boost its power.
    • by Kilrah_il ( 1692978 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @12:34PM (#33697296)

      No, you are going at it all wrong. What you propose is based on the premises of logic, whilst the rules are based on politics (AKA votes-whoring and popularity). Since anyone with any reasonable amount of logic is not trying to be involved in the cesspool called politics, then it is obvious that the two domains are mutually exclusive and thus your post has no bearing on the issue whatsoever.

      And on a serious note: Too bad you are 100% correct. Not only is there no proof to the dangers of cellphone radiation, but also if there was any danger, then the correct course of action would be to put as many low-power towers as possible, as per your post. Sadly enough, the ones passing the rules don't deem it important enough to consult anyone who actually understand something in this issue.

    • totally, but when was the last time you heard of a competent politician/political decision/gov't law etc.? It's rare, but grandstanding is cheap.

  • by Liambp ( 1565081 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @09:53AM (#33696434)

    About 15 years ago my rural dwelling brother law was a leading light in a somewhat successful local campaign against the "radiation masts" that were sprouting up around the country side. As a city dweller who lived even then in a veritable sea of electromagnetic waves I was pretty sceptical of their protests and today , 15 years later, I am amused at his constant complaints that he cannot get a decent phone or internet signal.

  • From TFA:

    'Our position is we want to be more proactive.' said Jody Turk-Goldberg, co-founder of a civic group called 'Moms of Merrick,' which discounts pronouncements by groups like the American Cancer Society that conclude there is scant evidence that cell towers are a health hazard. 'We saw what the tobacco companies did years ago; everybody said smoking was safe,' she added

    You know those blasted scientists and the American Cancer Society, definitely in the pocket of "Big Cell Phone"

    • Cellphones are a much bigger source of radiation to your body than a celltower. Now, if you move the celltower further away, what does the cellphone need to do to reach it? Pump the power, radiating even more, at a geometrical increase depending on the distance.

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @10:13AM (#33696528) Homepage Journal

    This sort of legislation is due to the "OMFG I KIN FEEL IT IN MY BWAIN!!!" tinfoil hat crowd, saying "RADIASION IZ KILLIN DE BEEZ!"

    And since the vast majority of people don't see fit to have an opinion on this, the vocal moronity - err, minority - are all that is heard, and the politicians will bow to the herd to get votes.

    The right answer IMHO would be for all the carriers to say "OK, fine - since you are too sensitive for our signals, we will remove them." Let us see what happens when Joe Ranknfile finds his precccisouuuussss cellphone doesn't work, and it is due to the tinfoil hat brigade and the spineless political hacks who covet their votes. Suddenly it won't be JUST the tinfoilers who are making themselves heard.

    • If they want to vote themselves shitty cellphone coverage in their nurseries and schools then let them. Hope they can get a signal when snowflake is choking on something...

    • by hjf ( 703092 )

      Yes. They're also putting COLORS in the water now! []

    • Let's make a list of related lunatic fringe causes:

      Artificial Sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose)
      Vaccines particularly MMR
      Chlorination / Fluoridation of drinking water

      Any more?

      • by j_sp_r ( 656354 )

        Aspartame really makes my sister sick. Two glasses of diet products -> Puking. Chlorination is bad because it tastes like shit an people have to buy bottled water(and throw away the containers). The rest, that is for nut jobs.

  • And here's the other half of the issue:

    "... unless the company can prove absolute need."

    Such proof being provided on the memo line of a check with a lot of zeros, made out to the politico's reelection fund.

    Somehow, I would guess that if Verizon wanted a cell site at some location, there are, $hall we $say, way$ to $ee $omething like that happen$.

  • by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @10:21AM (#33696564)

    Yeah, well, if they're that upset about radiation, maybe we don't give them television, radio, ban the 2-ways in the police, fire, and ambulance, nobody can own a cell phone or any other 2-way communications, no more wireless computer networks, wi-fi, etc. Landline phones only, no remote car door unlockers or garage door raisers... its fun to take it to an extreme... but this is already an extreme...

    Its dumb as a box of rocks. All they're saying is, "We don't want ANYTHING to change, anywhere, anytime, for any reason."

    People I love to hate...

  • Verizon (and other cell companies) should not only no longer place cell sites in Hempstead. They should disconnect all the sectors of out of town antennas which point into Hempstead, and make the whole thing a dead zone. Then there's a few things that could happen.

    1) Much of Hempstead's population will get sick of being in a dead zone and will tell the tinfoil hatter's to STFU and repeal the law.
    2) Hempstead will become a destination for tinfoil hatters and cranky old cellphone haters, and everyone's happ

  • Not uncommon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PNutts ( 199112 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @10:33AM (#33696616)

    TFA mentions another city that tried similar restrictions and was overturned by a federal court. There is a proposed Wi-Max tower half a block from my house and the neighborhood is doing everything they can to stop it. The city has made it clear they have no say in the matter as tower placement is governed by the state and feds. So... IMHO Hempstead will be in court the next time a carrier proposes a new tower, and while it may delay the tower being built Hempstead spend a lot of money and lose. Also, cell towers are a source of revenue and in my part of town they are primarily on school buildings (the building itself or their chimneys), churches, watertowers, one in a graveyard, etc. We have very few stand-alone towers which may be part of the NIMBY here.

  • five children who attended school 50 feet from cell antennas on a water tower have been diagnosed with cancer or leukemia and three have died

    So ... instead of looking for the actual cause of the cancers you decided the tower was a good enough scapegoat?

    Darwin in action.

    • Sadly, they're likely to find the school's water supply is contaminated by chemical waste from some industrial source.
      • You mean 'unlikely' - they never looked for the real cause.

      • Which will probably be considered OK because the industry in question provided a few minimum wage jobs and considerable political contributions.
  • I hope Hempstead bans telephone polls and electrical wires too. And streetlights, and traffic signals.

  • On the day when the law comes into force, the companies should just turn off the towers within the limited areas for 30 minutes during a peak time, along with appropriate publication in local media before that.

    Then the citizens can decide if their representatives are representing well, and the (currently) silent majority is welcome to lynch the activist group that achieved this.

  • "Despite a 1996 federal law prohibiting municipalities from considering health issues in approving locations for cell antennas, a group of mothers concerned about what they consider risky cell towers outside their children's schools successfully lobbied the town of Hempstead. While the town board adhered to FCC regulations to not consider possible health effects, officials instead described the vote as a quality of life issue. The ordinance provides real protection against the siting of cell towers and ante
  • by MoldySpore ( 1280634 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @11:32AM (#33696928)

    Honestly, this all comes down to how dumb people are. I'll give an example from where I grew up

    It was a relatively small town, but within 10-20 minutes of large cities here in New York. There is literally NO cell phone reception around the entire radius of the town. You have to drive at least 10-15 minutes to get cell reception. So Verizon (and at that time, CellularOne who was recently bought out by AT&T) wanted to put up a tower right in the middle of the town behind some barns and silos. Not visible from the road but if you tried hard enough you could see it.

    The town, who I knew from experience hated not having cell service, was concerned about property values dropping and how "bad the tower would look" when driving Verizon proposed using one of the "camouflage" towers that looks like a pine tree. The town reviewed it, and STILL said no because it "didn't look enough like a tree". So Verizon came back and said "ok we will build the tower inside a silo. You won't be able to see it AT ALL. The reception will be reduced slightly because of it being enclosed, but you will still have service". Instead of approving it, they put it up for a vote, and the tower STILL voted it down over concerns of "radiation".

    Weeks later I remember hanging out with friends, whose fathers and mothers were on the town board, and others who had voted no, and hearing them and their kids bitch about the fact that there still wasn't cell reception, and blaming the cell companies for NOT PROVIDING A FEASIBLE SOLUTION!

    I think this happens more often than not around the country, where stupid backwards people who don't really know what they are talking about, wind up shooting town technological advances in favor of "oh that looks bad" or "oh i heard it does _______ which is bad" without knowing the facts, or understanding how important technology can be, especially in rural areas that have been without it. In this case, lack of cell phone reception and broadband internet kept many businesses and other things important for growth of a town or city out of the area because of the lack of available technology.

    It really amazes me at how resistant people are. I'd rather have my property value go down a little than be without cell reception or internet service in this day in age. It hurts more not to have it than it would to just grin and bear it for the good of advancement.

  • Radio towers are a Federal issue and the only standing that provinces and municipalities have is what the feds care to give them. This federal perogative has been widely accepted by the provinces. Industry Canada is the regulating ministry.

    This is not to say that the municipalities are ignored... just that if the feds say you can build a tower and approve the design then the local municipality can complain but they have no legal grounds to block the construction.

    see []

    • by NNKK ( 218503 )

      Pretty much the same in the US. Antenna placement is governed by the FCC, and any local or state laws and regulations that have a significant impact on the ability of anyone to put up an otherwise-legal antenna are void.

      Lots of cities try to pull this crap. Some of them back off once a few lawyers get involved, others waste millions of tax dollars in court only to be smacked around by an unamused US District Court judge.

  • All the comments here seem to focus on fears of health issues. That may be true, but I remember that when I was younger, a cell company put up a tower overnight in the middle of my community. There was a lot of protest, people complained. Not because of health issues, but because it was ugly--a giant ugly tower right up in the middle of the neighbourhood. So, just to say, it may not only be that people are 'nuts', but just that they want to preserve the aesthetics of their town. I think they were also

  • by Digicrat ( 973598 ) on Saturday September 25, 2010 @01:00PM (#33697422)

    "The ordinance prohibits wireless equipment within 1,500 feet of homes, schools, day care centers, and houses of worship, unless the company can prove absolute need."

    Note the last part of that sentence from the summary. In essence, it seems to imply that their just requiring special building permits approved on a case-by-case basis for any new cell tower built in a potentially concerning place. That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

    At the very least, if the process for requesting permits for new towers becomes more cumbersome, perhaps the providers will look more closely at re-using/sharing existing towers in more elaborate ways. If not, we'll have cell towers on every block sooner or later (which isn't good for anybody).

  • This only bans new towers. This means existing towers will now be worth much more. Who owns those?
  • They can just build 1600ft tall "Freedom Towers" and then happen to place a cell antenna on top. The "cell equipment" will equipment will be at least 1500 ft away from all buildings and no politician will be able to argue against "Freedom Towers" :-p

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