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New Yorkers Growing Wary of Cell Phone Towers

PHOTO: Concern over cell towers and their potential impact on real estate values have some New Yorkers pushing back against installing them in or near residential areas. Photo credit: National Institute for Science Law and Public Policy.
PHOTO: Concern over cell towers and their potential impact on real estate values have some New Yorkers pushing back against installing them in or near residential areas. Photo credit: National Institute for Science Law and Public Policy.
July 16, 2014

LOCUST VALLEY, N.Y. - Property owners around the state are casting wary glances at neighborhood cell towers, antennas and other installations that emit electromagnetic frequencies, or EMF.

A recent survey by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy showed that 79 percent of the participants would "never purchase or rent" a property within a few blocks of a cell tower or antennas.

Ruth Redington lives on the North Shore of Long Island, where she and other neighbors question the necessity for an installation in the Village of Matinecock. There’s concern about the potential impact on the desirability of properties.

"I think a lot of people, even though they may not have all the information, intuitively feel that they wouldn't want to buy a home close to a cluster of antennas," said Redington.

Some residents are calling on the Matinecock trustees to require an environmental impact statement on the installation, and to enact an ordinance for future protections.

On a related issue, Andrew Pettersen is a Jericho real estate attorney who also opposes so-called 'smart meters,' which use radio frequencies to monitor utility consumption in homes.

"Certainly, if I was looking for a home," said Pettersen. "The number one item on my list would be whether or not there's a smart meter or a cell phone tower in the vicinity. And if there is, I certainly wouldn't buy the home."

He believes smart meters violate privacy provisions in the Constitution.

Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist, said he almost lost his son to illnesses he believes were caused by electromagnetic frequencies. While not everyone is susceptible to the effects, he said he sold a home in Florida because of it.

"I think full disclosure is the way to go," said Sinatra. "The agent that I was going to list it with, she asked me why I'm selling it. I said, 'I'm too close to the cell phone tower.' I was getting sick. And again, I might get sick and somebody else may not, but I think it's important to have full disclosure."

The National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy survey, conducted online and via social media, showed 94 percent of respondents felt a nearby cell phone tower would reduce their interest in a property and the price they would be willing to pay for it.

Back on the North Shore, Redington adds, "I'm not a real estate broker. "But I'm sure that, faced with the option between a house that isn't close to a cluster of antennas, and a house that is, that one would choose the house that's farther away."

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY