Final construction work has begun on a controversial 127-foot cell tower in the Nassau County village of Manorhaven, with security guards and police shielding workers from residents angry about what they say is an eyesore.
The tower is located on village property in the middle of a residential neighborhood, just 30 feet from Erin Ryan's kitchen window.
"Every time I look out my window, I just get tears in my eyes," said Ryan, an NYPD cop now battling cancer. "I can't believe this is going on right now."
Ryan has only lived in the rented home a few months, but is already planning to move out. Her neighbors, however, have vowed to continue a fight that began four years ago.
"It's an insult to our intelligence and an insult to our neighborhood," said lifelong Manorhaven resident Joe Giunta.
Giunta and his neighbors have lobbied local lawmakers to stop the cell tower project after losing separate lawsuits in state and federal court.
Beyond the eyesore, they argue that the cell tower is dangerous.
"We're worried about health risks," said Giunta. "There are a lot of kids on the block and we don't know what kind of health risk we're at."
Manorhaven's village board approved construction of the cell tower at the site of a village sewer pumping station in 2008, but then tried to stop construction a year later.
The cell tower company, AG Towers of West Babylon, sued, and late last year, a federal judge sided with the company and cleared the way for construction.
Last week, in a last effort to stop the project, the Manorhaven village board sent the cell tower company a letter offering to relinquish all rights under the lease and refund the $117,000 in lease payments.
"AG Towers answered that when its trucks rolled down our street Tuesday," said village clerk Jonathan Fielding.
"Where the developer has chosen to locate the tower, it's too close to residential homes," he added.
The lawyer for AG Towers, William Wexler, deflected the criticism.
"We built the tower where the village told us to build it," said Wexler. "They picked the location. We followed the letter of the law."
No member of the Manorhaven village board that approved the tower construction could be reached for comment.
Two current trustees, including Deputy Mayor John Di Leo, were among those who supported the long-term lease deal with the cell tower company. AG Towers shareholders include former Suffolk County executive Patrick Halpin, Wexler confirmed.
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