AT&T And Schenck Fuels Propose Solution To Noise Concerns From Cell Tower Plans

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AT&T may be one step closer in expanding its coverage in East Hampton Village after the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Friday morning.

In December, the cellphone service provider presented the board with its plans to install 12 new antennas, in addition to telecommunications equipment such as cooling fans, at the Schenck Fuels property on Newtown Lane. However Schenck Fuels and AT&T have yet to receive approval to proceed, because of the board’s concern with potential noise from the fans.

After being asked to come up with a noise mitigation plan for the fans at a January meeting, John Huber, the applicant’s attorney, and Mike Patel, an engineer at Tectonic Engineering of Newburgh, presented the board with a plan during Friday’s meeting to reduce the noise.

“The design we are proposing now would require putting a sound barrier around this cabinet,” said Mr. Patel. The barrier would reduce the noise level from 54 decibels when the fans are running at full capacity with no barrier, to 46 decibels with the barrier, at the neighboring property line. The ambient level is 44 decibels, said Mr. Patel, comparing it to the sound of a “quiet library.”

The Design Review Board, said ZBA Chairman Frank E. Newbold, also would require the applicant to install a 20-foot buffer of landscaping between commercial and residential land—a factor that may even bring the fans’ noise down to the current ambient level.

“If you add vegetation or any other obstruction, it would reduce the sound,” said Mr. Patel, stating it is “highly likely” the vegetation would bring the decibel level down to 44.

As it stands, a large area of bamboo exists between Schenck Fuels’ property and the neighboring residential parcel, which Mr. Hubert argued should be left in place instead of landscaping.

“Sometimes it’s considered to be a pest but in this situation it’s helpful. In this case, we believe landscaping isn’t practical and that area is basically inaccessible. It would just create an additional maintenance issue.”

The measurement of 46 decibels with the sound barrier was calculated as a “worse-case scenario,” where no vegetation existed between the two pieces of property, said Mr. Patel.

The hearing is left open until the next meeting on March 14, where the board said it hopes to settle the issue.

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