On May 6, the Village of Flower Hill heard from ExteNet Systems, Inc.—provider of converged communication infrastructure and services for advanced network connectivity—regarding the proposed placement of 18 telecommunication nodes/antennas on either existing or replacement utility poles throughout the village.
“A small cell wireless facility is a unit roughly no more than 6 cubic feet in size which is often attached to a phone pole or street lamp,” explained village attorney Jeffrey Blinkoff to preface the presentation. “By installing a number of these, the goal of the applicant would be to expand mobile wireless service. ExteNet, a company which owns and operates such networks, has filed an application with the village and a proposal to install this type of network in the village. They have asked that the board of trustees approve a special use permit to do so.”
“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible,” said village administrator Ronnie Shatzkamer, who explained that multiple mailings went out along with calls to residents. “We are having another hearing on June 3.”
The proposed small cell locations include existing wood poles, replacement wood poles and many decorative street lights. The node locations include: Node 25 (decorative metal street light) on the island on Elderfields Road; node 32 (replacement wood pole) on Stonytown Road where an existing pole sits; node 34 (existing wood pole) near the intersection of Stonytown Road and Cardinal Road; node 36 (decorative metal street light) placed on Stonytown Road near the speed sign; node 38 (replacement wood pole) on Stonytown Road in the right of way adjacent to 397 Stonytown Rd.; node 43 (decorative metal street light) at the corner of Bonnie Heights Road and Knolls Lane; node 45 (decorative metal street light) at the Bonnie Heights Road/Elderfields Road intersection; node 48 (decorative metal street light or existing pole) at the Elderfields Road/Crabapple Road intersection; node 49 (decorative metal street light or replacement wood pole) near 530 Manhasset Woods Rd.; node 54 (replacement wood pole) adjacent to 215 Elderfields Rd.; node 55 (decorative metal street light) at the Walter Lane/Manhasset Woods Road intersection; node 59 (decorative metal street light) at the corner of Pinetree Lane and Boulder Road; node 60 (decorative metal street light) for the Boulder Road/Birch Lane intersection; node 61 (decorative metal street light or flag pole) at the Boulder Road/Elderfields Road island; node 62 (existing wood utility pole) for the right of way adjacent to 34 Walter Lane; node 63 (decorative metal street light) in the right of way adjacent to 399 Dogwood Lane; node 64 (decorative metal street light) adjacent to in the right of way 30 Elderfields Rd.; and node 65 (replacement wood pole) adjacent to 268 Eakins Rd.
ExteNet presented multiple decorative metal street light styles to the community. Each light would be 30 feet in height while the wood poles would range in height from 34 to 40 feet. The poles would also hold antennas (14.6 inches in diameter by 2 feet in height) at the pole top or within the communications zone and a radio shroud (35.2 inches by 15.6 inches by 9 inches) 9-and-a-half feet above ground.
According to the presentation, the maximum deployed transmit power specified for the radio units is 20 watts each at 700 MHz and 1,900 MHz and 40 watts at 2,100 MHz.
Just before the community had a chance to comment on the presentation, the Flower Hill Board of Trustees had a chance to ask the company questions.
Trustee Kate Hirsch asked, “In terms of saying this board has no control, are you basing that on the recent September 2018 FCC rule?” After attorney Chris Fischer of Cuddy & Feder, LLP, the firm representing ExteNet, said “there is limited jurisdiction,” Hirsch followed it up with “The statement of purpose in this presentation said the purpose is to install 4G. My reading of that rule says it’s for 5G and roll out 5G and you don’t mention it.”
When Fisher said the rule was for all small cells, Hirsch continued, “It mentions it briefly, but it does say the very purpose of that rule was to enable the 5G rollout…You’re basically putting in old technology and using the new rule. I’m just curious why.”
Fisher responded that it is not old technology, it is still going to be used for several years in the future and 5G is just being rolled out in urban city areas to begin.
“I think you’re trying to piggyback on the regulation and get into the village at this point when it’s not necessary,” said Hirsch. “We talked about one thing we can regulate is aesthetics. When we discussed streetlights, this wasn’t what I envisioned. I heard someone say ‘urbanization’ and ‘it’s not our quaint village anymore’ and it’s really true. Is there any concern with any surveillance or loss of privacy to village residents?”
“These small cell networks aren’t hacked any more or differently than a standard macro cell would be,” said Chris Fridrich, senior RF design engineer with ExteNet.
“All of the legislation is based on the 1996 law, which the last time the health effects were looked at was also 1996 and I think there was a representative from Oregon and Connecticut, who have been pressing the FCC who punts it over to the FDA about what the effects are of this,” said Hirsch. “I know technically we’re not allowed to even question that, but does ExteNet agree there should be looking into what the health effects are?”
Dr. Kenneth R. Foster explained that both the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety and the International Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, organizations that set exposure limits, have tweaked the limits this year.
Hirsch’s questions were met with much applause from the large turnout of community members. Many Flower Hill residents had similar questions, and all in the room expressed one unified belief: there is not a need for better service in Flower Hill, residents do not currently have spotty service and they do not want the small cells invading their village.
“I turn my cellphone off at night so the doctor mentioned that a lot of its output is similar to cell phone [radio frequency], but that’s an option I still have,” said resident Liz Oppo. “We’re not going to be able to turn off any of these nodes.”
Resident John Duffy asked if the frequencies will double or triple when networks other than Verizon, like T-Mobile or AT&T, are added to which the ExteNet representatives said yes. Other residents voiced concerns over exposure, especially for pregnant women, safety from hacks and more.
To view the ExteNet presentation and more information, residents can visit village hall at 1 Bonnie Heights Rd.
A petition was started on Change.org by Megan Donovan on May 9 for residents who are against the nodes to sign.
“As Flower Hill residents, we are extremely concerned with the full deployment of 5G wireless technology and its untold effects and do not consent with its installation or the ‘Trojan horse’ being covertly labeled 4G, which Verizon workers say we currently have,” reads the petition page.
As of press time, 153 people signed the petition.
What did you think of the 18 small cells proposed in Flower Hill? Share your thoughts with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.