Can you hear me now?
A cell phone tower in the heart of Smithtown will be growing 50 feet taller, thanks to a unanimous vote by the town board last month that should improve service for AT&T and Verizon customers throughout the town — especially in times of emergency, officials said. The tower, owned by Site Tech Wireless LLC, was given the go-ahead to increase its height from 75 feet to 125 feet where it currently stands at the Smithtown Landing Country Club.
“The primary purpose of the extension is public safety,” said Bailey Larkin, the attorney representing Site Tech. “The town currently maintains two whip antenna on top of the existing 75-foot site. The pole, these two whip antennas, will be on the top of the extension at 125 feet.”
The 50 feet, he said, would make for better service in tough-to-reach areas of town like the area surrounding Nissequogue River in Kings Park.
Michael Lynch, a state-certified real estate appraiser based out of Huntington, told the town board at a public hearing back in 2013 that he did not anticipate the extra 50 feet would affect the surrounding area financially or environmentally, within a quarter-acre radius of the tower.
The unanimous decision came at the board’s June 2 meeting after the town ruled the project would have no negative impacts on the greater Smithtown community. Under the plan, AT&T and Verizon would both be increasing their heights on the pole or replacing their equipment altogether to provide better service. Larkin said both carriers had been experiencing service issues over the past several years, ultimately making it difficult to be effective for groups that rely heavily on it, like emergency responders.
The town had initially built the tower at 75 feet in 2010 without a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, resulting in a $750 fine Site Tech had to pay as a violation.
The applicant said a taller tower could potentially save a few steps in the greater process of rerouting calls to other area cell towers whenever the Smithtown tower falls short. Currently, emergency calls in the area run the risk of being rerouted to Connecticut and then routed again to Suffolk County’s emergency responder system in order to bypass the Smithtown tower’s shortcomings.
The application will now go before the Smithtown Board of Site Plan Review for approval.