Leading the way for other municipalities, in September 2010 Hempstead Town passed tough new legislation that regulates where cell antennae and other wireless telecommunications equipment may be placed within the township. The law establishes a very high standard of proof for cellular service providers in establishing the need for new cell towers and also ensures that approved wireless communications equipment is located at sites that minimize negative impacts on local communities.
A key goal of the town's law is to encourage shared use or co-location of new antennae onto existing cell towers or other structures while discouraging the unnecessary construction of new towers. In support of that priority, applicants for new cell towers must furnish a written report to the town detailing meaningful efforts to co-locate. Cell companies requesting a new tower must also conduct widely advertised balloon tests which offer the public a representation of the visual impact of a newly proposed tower utilizing a large, brightly colored balloon at the proposed tower site. Written reports, replete with pictorial representations of the proposed tower, must also be produced as well as a thorough discussion of steps the applicant would take to effectively minimize the visual intrusion of wireless structures as much as possible.
Other highlights of the new legislation include the following:
- No new cell towers or antennae shall be located closer than 1500 feet to a residential home, house of worship, day care center or school.
- Applicants proposing new cell towers must provide a report inventorying existing towers and other suitable structures within 2 miles of a proposed cell tower site.
- In justifying a request for a cell tower of any height, data must be provided to document the effectiveness of a tower at a lower total height at the same location.
The new Wireless Telecomunications Ordinance can be found in Chapter 142 of the Code of the Town of Hempstead entitled: WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES.