Cell Phone Towers

The controversy over the placement of cellular phone base towers (Cell Phone Towers) in residential areas has been growing in recent years, as more information becomes available about the health and environmental impact of exposure to such towers. Current law permits companies to erect Cell Phone Towers without notice and without prior approval of the community or any governmental entity. In fact, New York State law expressly prohibits localities from using zoning laws to regulate the placement of such towers. Thus, local officials have no oversight over the placement of the Cell Phone Towers and no authority to prevent them from being erected even in areas where the community strongly objects.

With the accelerating proliferation of Cell Phone Towers in the 12th Congressional District, I have heard from a number of community groups and residents who are deeply concerned about the lack of oversight over the placement of these stations. While the law prevents localities from using zoning rules to ban Cell Phone Towers, the FCC does regulate certain design elements, including the maximum amount of radiation the towers can emit. In response to complaints, I have requested that the FCC inspect Cell Phone Towers in several instances in which I believed the agency's rules may be being violated.

For example, when Astoria residents complained about Cell Phone Towers that were located on a roof adjacent to an area they commonly used for recreational purposes, and that birds were being killed by the radiation from the towers, I asked FCC inspectors to investigate. The residents were concerned that the radiation levels were too high, that the too many towers were clustered in a small area and that the area was too easily accessible by the public. The day before the inspectors were due to arrive, the company acknowledged the problems and removed the towers.

Most recently, I protested the placement of Cell Phone Towers directly facing an Astoria elementary school. I am especially concerned about the potentially harmful effects on children of microwave transmissions, particularly since cellular phone technology is relatively new and its long term health impacts are not yet fully known.