After years of editorials criticizing ugly cellphone antennas and calling for them to be located on existing structures where they will be substantially invisible, we must speak out in favor of a proposal in Clifton Park that would do just that. Too bad the neighbors appear to be against it. If they oppose this, they will oppose anything.
According to the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, communities can’t ban cell antennas altogether; they can only restrict where they will go. Nor would it be realistic to ban them — since 1997, cellphones have become ubiquitous in our society, and their uses have grown beyond voice communications to text, video, music, etc. So if telecommunications companies didn’t provide the infrastructure, citizens would demand it.
The proposal in Clifton Park is about the best one could hope for. Two companies, T-Mobile and Verizon, would share the antennas, which would be placed on top of existing water towers in two different housing developments. The water towers are smaller than the typical free-standing cell tower, 85 feet vs. 150 feet.
The antennas, accompanying wires and cables would be painted blue to match the towers. There would be no generators at the site, thus little noise. And according to a company attorney at the public information session last Wednesday, no trees would have to be removed, even though some surrounding trees are as tall or taller than the antenna would be. It would be good if the Planning Board got this in writing before approving the project.
But it should approve. If it doesn’t, the companies won’t go away. They’ll just lease space from some landowners nearby and build those huge Erector Set towers there — in plain view.