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Monday, March 27, 2023
Home Government Letter: Rye's New Big Pole Proposal and a Hideous Vision of a...

Letter: Rye’s New Big Pole Proposal and a Hideous Vision of a Dystopian Future

The following is a Letter to the Editor from Rye resident Thomas Putnam.

To fellow citizens of Rye:

By now you may have heard that Verizon wants to plaster the streets with so-called “mini cell towers”.  They promise a constant five bars on your phone and blindingly fast Youtube uploads, but at what cost?  I know I speak for hundreds of Rye residents when I demand our City Council give thought to the serious issues outlined below:

1) AESTHETICS -  The towers consist of metallic cylinders to be mounted on top of our existing telephone poles.  Figure 1 (below) shows the top of a typical Rye pole today.  Figure 2 (further below) shows a pole with the cell tower.  Any rational person will agree that Figure 1 is quaint and lovely.  The metal arms at the top are outstretched, as if about to embrace humanity in a warm electric hug.  However, Figure 2 is threateningly phallic, evoking an aroused Tin Man. Do we want to subject our children (and particularly our daughters!!!) to viewing these every ½ mile throughout town???

FIGURE 1: Quaint and traditional pole of today:

FIGURE 2: Hideous vision of a dystopian future:


2) HEALTH – Cell phones and cell towers emit electromagnetic radiation!  In fact, typical cell towers emit what scientists refer to as “radio waves”. Fortunately, cellular radio waves are much less powerful than Wi-Fi radio waves (cellular frequencies are 1.9-2.2 Gigahertz vs. 5 Gigahertz for Wi-Fi), but it’s still something.  In addition to Wi-Fi radio in most homes today, we are bombarded on a daily basis with radio waves from cordless landline phones, old-fashioned radio and broadcast TV, plus Bluetooth, garage door openers, and every other wireless device in our houses.  So do we really need even one bit more?  While Verizon and the FCC and the NIH say there is no evidence of any harm from radio waves, we all know that it is well-known that cell phones have been alleged for more than 20 years to cause brain tumors!  And worse, radio waves are invisible, odorless, and silent.  Do we really need this silent menace in our neighborhood?

FIGURE 3: Proof that cellular "radio waves" are actually radiation:

3) REAL ESTATE VALUES –  In an article six years ago in the real estate section of the New York Times, Andrew J. Campanelli, a Long Island lawyer who was hired to oppose mini cell towers, claimed that real estate values may decrease from 4 to 10% due to proximity to mini cell towers!!!   Mr. Campanelli is clearly an expert on this topic, so much that his law firm’s website is www.anticelltowerlawyers.com .   While proponents of modern communication may say there is no evidence for Mr. Campanelli's 2010 numbers, keep in mind the quote was printed in THE NEW YORK TIMES, a.k.a., “the newspaper of record.So I think it is reasonable to say that it is well-known that real estate will drop by at least 10%.  Besides, it’s just common sense.  Ask yourself: would you have bought your current house if the lovely telephone pole there today had been topped by a hideous metal cylinder emitting almost as much radio as your home Wi-Fi unit?  And since taxes in Rye are based on real estate values, lower home prices means less money for schools, more potholes in the streets, and fewer police to keep us safe at night.

4) COMPLETE LACK OF BENEFITS – While the costs are varied and significant, Verizon only offers us one benefit: better cell phone service and faster internet on our phones.   But this is not really a benefit when you think about it.  Kids spend way too much time already on their phones.  Faster download speeds will just make them Instagram and Tweet more instead of playing stickball and hopscotch.  And for the adults, the many cellular-less parts of Rye are some of the few places you can still get away from it all, with no fear of being bothered by your kids when they need a ride, or your boss when he needs help on that presentation.  Do we really want to give that peace and quiet up, just so people can watch cat videos in their cars?


Thomas Putnam

Rye resident


  1. While I am also opposed to the proposed installation of new cell phone towers throughout Rye, I think it important to take the concern about “radiation” with a grain of salt. Yes, concerns have been expressed for 20+ years about cell phone emissions as a potential cause of cancer. But despite many studies on the matter, no link has been established between the level and frequency of emissions from cell phones and cancer or other health issues. This is a red herring in the argument. Rather, the City Council should stick to using its regulator authority to address aesthetic issues with the proposal. There is also the small matter of property rights which must be protected as well. And, if any new poles are required, I would ask that the City make sure that this time, they are not placed smack dab in the middle (or even encroaching upon) pedestrian right of way whether or not a sidewalk has actually been paved.

  2. “Any work performed pursuant to the rights granted under this Use Agreement shall be subject to the reasonable prior review and approval of the City except that it is agreed that no zoning or planning board permit, variance, conditional use permit or site plan permit, or the equivalent under the City’s ordinances, codes or laws, shall be required for the installation of NextG’s Equipment installed in the Public Way and/or on Municipal Facilities, unless such a process has been required for the placement of all communications facilities and equipment in the Public Way by all other telecommunications providers, including but not limited to the ILEC and local cable provider(s).”
    Rye almost never grants this kind of blanket planning and zoning exemption.
    These rights protect the city against applicant overreach all the time. Example- Playland.
    Then I saw the two Rye signatures under this concession. I think I know why this issue was being soft-pedaled as something we can’t really do much about and had to just accept. Remember the 70+ unit apartment building next to Rye City Hall all pre-approved being slipped through city council late one summer evening not so long ago?


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