Friday, January 15, 2021

News from the Planning Board: Verizon

On Tuesday, the Planning Board devoted an hour each to three proposals now before them: Verizon's proposal to site communications equipment on Providence Hall; Colarusso's application for conditional use permits for its operations in Hudson; and the Galvan Foundation's proposal for the "Depot District." On Tuesday night, Gossips provided a preview of what Galvan is proposing for 75 North Seventh Street and 708 State Street.

Now, we will provide a more detailed report on Tuesday's Planning Board meeting, beginning with the continuation of the public hearing on the proposal to install communications equipment on Providence Hall.

Before the public hearing resumed, Scott Olson, the attorney representing Verizon, told the board that they had revised and updated the visual analysis of the impact of the antennas. The material provided to the Planning Board is not yet available on the city website, but one of the improvements being proposed is a "stealth enclosure" for the antennas on the west side of the building. The first picture below shows the antennas, which are normally white, painted to camouflage them; the second picture shows the proposed concealment structure.

Olson explained that, because of the increased load, the antennas with the stealth structure would have to be moved farther south on the building--nearer Prison Alley. He also suggested that the structure "will look like a penthouse."

From the beginning of the Planning Board's review of this proposal, Olson has maintained that the Planning Board cannot consider the health risks presented by the antennas. The standards are set by the FCC, and their only obligation is to meet those standards. On Tuesday, he asserted the project was fully compliant with FCC requirements and in fact was "hundreds of times below the standard we could operate at." Nevertheless, concerns about radiation exposure persist. Part of the reason for this is a lawsuit brought by Children's Health Defense against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), alleging that FCC standards are inadequate to safeguard human health and prevent harm to the environment. The evidentiary brief was filed on July 29, 2020, and the case is scheduled for review in district court on January 25, 2021. Until there is a decision in this landmark case, the question of compliance with FCC standards seems a bit uncertain. 

Another persistent question is the necessity for these towers to be located on this building, which is adjacent to a National Register and locally designated historic district. Olson maintains, "This location is exactly where we need to be according to code." The relevant code is Chapter 284 of the City of Hudson code, adopted in 2001 and amended in 2005. Olson told the board this location was the second highest priority according to the code and "the highest priority available to us." Alexandra Semchenko suggested the DPW buildings on Dock Street and the open land adjacent to the buildings, in the vicinity of the Shacks and the dog park, as alternative sites. Olson responded that the buildings on Dock Street were not tall enough and erecting a new, freestanding tower would be "inconsistent with the hierarchy" outlined in the code.

During the public hearing, the Planning Board heard a letter written by Glenn Roney, in which he suggested two alternative sites--John L. Edwards School (now for sale) and Charles Williams School (now the Second Ward Foundation), warned that Verizon's "forest of antenna towers" could grow into a "jungle of crowded, unsightly, mismatched proportions" when other wireless providers seek to mount antennas on the building, and argued eloquently that the proposed antennas had no place in close proximity to a historic district:
A historic district is not something that occurs overnight. Or over the course of a few decades. It is a designation of honor and value that accrues over centuries. The houses in our historic district bear mute testimony to over 2 centuries of American history. They have been in existence almost as long as America has been a county.
Such a precious cultural resource (due to its antiquity & uniquity) should be nurtured and protected like an endangered wildlife habitat is protected. The historic district is worth defending against any encroachments or infringements on its views. It should not be sacrificed upon the altar of arbitrary definitions of "progress."
Our community has enjoyed the good fortune of an unprecedented . . . 30 year rise in prosperity because of its unique component parts. These parts include (but are not limited to): the historic district; the art galleries contained within and around it; restaurants and antique galleries--all bordered by the sublime natural beauty of the mid-Hudson river valley. The sum total of these component parts adds up to a winning formula for our community that should not be tampered with. Why mess with local success?
These component parts are the reason people live here and want to visit here. People don't choose to live or visit her because of the quality of cellular phone service. And to even think about disturbing the delicately balanced equilibrium of our community by allowing Verizon's project to proceed--with its industrial, soul-crushing antenna towers--seems almost criminal to me. The proposed towers are not in keeping with the current incarnation of our fair city. Don't subtract from the historic-artistic ambience of our community by adding an ugly, out-of-place variable.
Especially when the so-called "benefit" of Verizon's proposal seems so scant when viewed from our community's perspective. From a strict cost/benefit analysis--the costs to Hudson would be exorbitant . . . measured against the meager benefit of improved phone service. . . .
At Tuesday's meeting, the Planning Board voted unanimously to classify the proposed project as an Unlisted Action under SEQRA and to declare itself lead agency. The public hearing will continue at the board's next meeting on Tuesday, February 9. 

The Planning Board meeting can be viewed here. The portion of the meeting that deals with the Verizon proposal begins at 1:22 and ends at 51:49.


  1. If you want to know about the antennae and their radioactivity, read up on the signs that Verizon and the other companies are required to install around the units.

    " Warning You are entering an area of danger - radioactivity " etc. I have them on the roof of my building on Madison Avenue in New York. the signs are required.

    getting them off the roof is almost impossible -- and my neighbors in the coop like the income. they do not care if their children end up deformed --

    the State does not protect you - trust your own research.

  2. I attended this meeting by zoom and I heard that City code steers the site chosen towards a city owned building. A participant asked about constructing a tower where no one lives and this was eliminated because of set protocol for site selection but her question is still worth pursuing. Is there a city owned location where no one lives where towers could be built not endangering anyone? Verizon is the first but the other companies will follow so why not create a zone dedicated to this purpose ? This point is still worth revisiting !

  3. Another thought: let the City of Hudson buy a suitable piece of isolated property and lease it to all the cell phone companies. Improve cell service and make some money and keep us safe!

  4. Hey. Any of you people look at the rooftop of our Hospital?

    1. Not the hospital. Not healthy for the patients or the nurses and staff -- toxic radioactivity !

    2. The roof of the hospital is already densely populated with antennas and equipment of all descriptions.

  5. Please enlighten me, does IT have to be located in Hudson proper? If not, how about a site in Greenport that's far enough from population but where transmission benefits both communities?
    I would take their warning signs seriously.

    1. There are ways to remediate the radiation. one is to use a coating to deflect the rays and use something like a lead liner. if you research this, you can find solutions.

      However, Verizon would first have to admit that the problem existed, which they would never do. If they were to do so, they would have to spend money to protect everyone around the thousands if installations that they have.

      for Verizon, it is just better to fry everyone and never admit that there is a problem. And somehow they got some law maker to insert a sub-paragraph saying that the subject could not be brought up in a public forum.

      Welcome to the system that you are supposed to trust.

  6. Ref previous comment of hospital rooftop. Once a rooftop is approve/accepted as a place for mounting antennae it is only a matter of time before many more will follow. Just what land area is the Verizon item to service?