Remarks on Potential Antenna Agreement to Village of Matinecock, April 8, 2014

As a long time former resident of Locust Valley, I was disturbed to learn the Village of Matinecock was considering a contract with Crown Castle for telecommunications and possibly utility equipment in residential areas. My family was blessed to grow up here. I have come from Vermont today to represent the interests of my 95-year old mother, Helene Victor, who has lived in the Locust Valley area for over 50 years.

We want to see the quality of life here maintained. I would hope the points I make here today will inspire the Trustees to pause and rethink plans to engage in a business relationship with Crown Castle.

After all, there is no reason to rush into this. One cannot claim there is an ‘urgency’ to put up 4 poles with antennas, when a “needs assessment” cannot even be produced. And when there is not an outcry from residents, as far as I know, complaining about dropped cell phone calls.

The Trustees have an obligation to carefully consider All The Implications of such a decision, especially given this would be a long- term contract with long-term, possibly irreversible ramifications for residents.

I have 10 Points to make this evening to the Village and regarding the answers provided by Crown Castle to the “26 Unanswered Questions”. Together these 10 points paint a picture of a bad business case for the Village of Matinecock to go forward with the proposed contract.


1.    No Needs Assessment. Crown Castle, in their response, said they are not “privy” to any ‘needs assessment’ conducted. Well, why would they be putting up poles if there were not a ‘needs assessment’ conducted? This raises the question of whether Crown Castle is putting these poles up ‘on spec’, hoping to then attract providers. Why would we want to enable this for their financial gain, if that is the case, at the expense of our community in many regards, when they cannot even show us evidence of a need? As many of you surely know, determining if there is a market need is “Business 101”.


2.    Economics of the Transaction. Crown Castle has estimated the annual revenue to the Village of Matinecock would be approximately $800 per pole, with adjustments for inflation over time. So initially, for 4 poles, we are talking about $3,200 to the Village of Matinecock annually—not a lot, certainly, and hardly worth the cost of the attorneys on this transaction. On legal costs alone, one wonders why the Village would be spending time on this contract.


I should also point out that though the Village’s cooperation is essential to Crown Castle’s intended purposes, the Village of Matinecock is not entitled to any part of monies received by Crown for the construction of the poles. These amounts are not known and could be significant.


Furthermore, the number of antennas on each pole is not specified. There are pictures of various potential types of antennas, and antenna configurations, and mention of possible extension brackets for more antennas in Exhibit A, but no commitment as to how many antennas there will be.  It is my understanding that elsewhere, in other locations in many states, real estate owners are paid several thousand dollars per month per antenna by the telcom providers. Hypothetically, were there 8 antennas on a pole, at $3k per antenna, this might mean earnings of $24,000 for the real estate owner per pole. If it were $5,000 per antenna, that figure would rise to $40,000.  And remember, the Village is getting only approximately $800 per pole.


In order to evaluate the fairness of this transaction, we need to know 1) the full compensation Crown Castle will receive for providing these poles to service providers, 2) how many antennas will be on each pole, and 3) a realistic estimate of what they will be paid for them.


We need full transparency on the economics of what Crown receives from service providers to be able to determine if the $800 per pole is equitable. With more complete information, it might be appropriate for the Village to ask for a portion of the pole construction revenues, and perhaps a higher percentage than 5% of the Adjusted Gross Revenues—even up to 50% given how central the Village properties and cooperation are to the business goals of Crown Castle. Or, it might be more financially attractive for the town to own the poles.


Until a more detailed financial analysis is presented, including the cost of the Village resources that will be needed for this program’s implementation, we have no way to evaluate the transaction’s merits on economic grounds at this time. I would question why the Village Trustees would even be considering it, given all the uncertainties, and concerns from residents about their beloved residential area, for only $800 per pole.


Due diligence on the economics involved here needs to be conducted, just as greater attention to the contract details needs to be paid by the Village Trustees themselves, instead of relying on assurances of others, who may not have done their homework, may have been misled, or who may even have conflicts of interest.


3.    Vagueness About What the Poles Will be Used For. The Crown Castle response says they will not say who their customers are or for what transmission purposes the poles will be used. This, again, raises the question of if they even have service providers lined up or are doing this ‘on spec’.  Should we be agreeing to this?


If you were a landlord, would you allow a tenant to rent space without knowing what business they were going to be conducting there and with whom? It is a very fair question if one is going to lease property. And a very important one today in the age of corporate and government invasions of our privacy.


What if these antennas were for Homeland Security purposes, or government or corporate spying,—would we want them here in the Village of Matinecock potentially violating our privacy rights? Why should we open the door to this possibility by not getting more detail on what is happening?


Residents want to know specifically what transmissions would be occurring in their air space under this contract.  We also need to know the technical specs for the antennas. And, not just the power of the antennas, as mentioned at the last meeting, but the frequencies, modulation patterns, signal characteristics and radiation footprints. We need to know much more detail and for many reasons.


The science and regulatory environment are advancing rapidly, and if we look at the lead of several other countries, some of whom are turning off antennas and towers, on various grounds, we would be well served to know what exactly is being installed in our community, right up front in the contract, as well as to require the monitoring of this radiation on an ongoing basis.


Antennas are sometimes found to be operating at higher than stated levels, in violation of the FCC thermal guidelines, and furthermore, there can be interactive effects, or interference fields, in the case of antennas, creating unintended hotspots from the waves interacting with each other. Any contract should require specificity with regard to what radiation emissions will be occurring, and ongoing monitoring of radiation levels in light of these potential hot spots above the FCC thermal limits, both initially, and as any antennas might be added in the future. This needs to be provided for in the contract.


And, in the case of smart grid technology, or of WiMax, the response from Crown Castle that these “have not been proposed” is not at all satisfactory. We need to know these controversial technologies will not be placed in our neighborhoods, and this too should be written into any contract.


4.    Approvals of Future Antennas. The way the contract is drafted suggests that once the initial contract is signed, it would be very difficult for Matinecock to deny additional requests for more poles and antennas. This does not seem like a prudent business decision for the Village of Matinecock. For the small amount of revenues the Village would receive, giving away ‘futures’ like this, especially when not even knowing what technologies are involved, would make one wonder if there is some other motivation.


No sensible person would agree upfront to unlimited permissions in the future, limiting one’s rights to decline further proliferation of this technology, and exposing residents to more of this unsightly and unwanted technology, and also without acceptable contract termination provisions.


5.    Possible Negligence by Village Trustees. Given the recent statement from the Department of Interior on February 7, 2014 about the risks to wildlife within the present FCC thermal guidelines, and warnings from other countries, as well, about risks to wildlife, if the Trustees do not insist on an Environmental Review, which would take into consideration the limitations of the present FCC thermal guidelines for wildlife and the ecosystem, I am concerned the village could potentially be liable for negligence. The Village should insist on an Environmental Review, and might reevaluate earlier utility approvals, also, in light of recent developments. If there is harm to wildlife occurring, I am sure we can all agree that steps should be taken to correct the situation, instead of perpetuating it.


6.    Avoidance of the Issue of Ground Level Risks. Crown Castle’s response avoided the question about ground level risks by referring to an earlier reply to a question regarding health risks. Beyond health risks, it is important to understand there are electrical interference risks with electronic equipment from radiofrequency radiation. For example, garage doors sometimes open spontaneously, hospital beds go up and down on their own, pacemakers have malfunctioned, Deep Brain Stimulators in Parkinson’s patients have malfunctioned, taxi cab radios malfunction near cellular antennas, etc. The Wall Street Journal has written about electrical interference risks very recently.


We need to know what the ground level risks are for humans and pets walking by these poles, and potential issues for electrical equipment in the house, from both the radiofrequency radiation and the Dirty Electricity, or the high frequency transients that get on the electrical wiring. This is not a health concern but a matter of technology interference with other technology.


7.    Unsatisfactory Response from Crown Castle re. Gas and Fire Risks. Residents have a right to know if there are gas explosion and fire risks in the presence of radiofrequency radiation. I’d like to know, specifically, if RF has ever been associated with gas and fire risks—not just that Crown Castle says they intend to be in compliance with certain safety standards. It is important for residents to understand any such risks so they can be on the lookout for problems.


8.    What Are the Village’s and Crown Castle’s Intentions for Additional Poles and Antennas Beyond the Initial 4 Poles? We are concerned that applying for an initial 4 poles, may lead to more antennas, particularly given the language in the contract would make it very difficult for the Village of Matinecock to deny future antennas once the initial contract is signed. I’d like to know what the plan is for antennas in Matinecock neighborhoods.


Applying for a few at a time can be deceptive if the real intention is ultimately to have many. Crown Castle says they wont divulge their customers (the service providers) names, and yet they want the Village to give them carte blanche to allow these companies to put up antennas and future antennas. We need to know who the service providers are—and what Crown’s customers are planning to do here, if Crown Castle is unable to answer the question themselves.


We’d like the full view of what is transpiring in our midst. Is that clearly understood?


9.    The Meaning of “Unlisted” in the Draft Contract is Still Not Clear.  What does this mean that Crown’s facilities are ‘Unlisted’? Does it mean the antennas would not be registered with the FCC? This question was not answered adequately so the significance of this matter cannot be evaluated at this time until it is explained.


10.   FCC Safety Guidelines, Referenced by Crown Castle, Were Not Intended For Non-Thermal Radiation Exposures.The FCC RF exposure guidelines were designed to determine safety for THERMAL EFFECTS of radiation, or radiation that is known to create heating. The guidelines are not for non-thermal radiation emitted by wireless antennas, but for higher power radiation, such as in microwave oven, or high power EMF exposures right near a tower, for example.  The non-thermal effects were not considered in establishing the FCC’s thermal guidelines, and so the thermal guidelines would not apply here.


This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Elephant in the Room here.


The FCC has not yet established guidelines for non-thermal RF radiation, and thermal guidelines are only relevant for any thermal portion of a given exposure. It is well-understood that there are non-thermal effects of EMFs, including non-linear effects, with distinct ‘windows’ of biological activity, as well as, in some cases, paradoxical effects, where the lower the radiation’s power level, the greater certain effects, such as effects on the brain.


So, until the FCC reviews the literature on the non-thermal effects of microwave radiation, and establishes non-thermal exposure guidelines, it is inappropriate to use the FCC’s thermal standards as a gauge to evaluate the safety of the non-thermal effects.


Thus, assurances by Crown Castle that the antennas would be in compliance with the limited FCC guidelines needs to be more carefully evaluated and understood by the Village. A decision locking the Village into a long-term contract without understanding the significant limitations of these assurances, would be a very poor business decision, indeed.


We request the Trustees of the Village of Matinecock allow the time to study this critical subject and not be rushed into premature actions by a commercial entity wishing to convince you that they have answered all important questions, including the non-thermal standards question, when they have not.


Do Not Be Misled—The Village of Matinecock has no obligation to approve this ‘Application’ by Crown Castle. Unless the Village Trustees determine that it is a good deal, that residents want it, that it makes good business sense, and that the transaction has the transparency residents want, you are under no obligation to agree to it. Do not be misled by those who would tell you otherwise!

Dig into it. The Trustees of the Village of Matinecock were not elected to be a pawn of the wireless telecom industry.


I recommend you decline this business relationship at this time in the interest of the community.  The Village can nip this mistake in the bud by simply recognizing the potential problems ahead, the inadequacy of the terms of the draft contract, and declining to enter into a business relationship with Crown Castle at this time.

Respectfully submitted,

Martine Victor
Helene Victor


Download Remarks Here (PDF)

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