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Wireless Facility Proposed for Top of Gramatan Tower: What Are the Issues? PDF Print Email

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By Staff


Apr. 3, 2019:  On March 13, the Bronxville Planning Board held a public meeting at Bronxville Village Hall.  The room was packed to capacity with concerned residents and business owners who were there to voice their opinions about a proposed plan to install an AT&T telecommunications wireless facility at 7 Pondfield Road in Bronxville, also known as Gramatan Tower. 

Approval for this proposed facility is requested because, according to AT&T’s site development application, the existing AT&T wireless facility is on top of NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital and the hospital is “opting out of its current lease.”

The meeting lasted only 15 minutes because the planning board told the applicant that it needed to provide additional information to the board as well as give appropriate notice to neighbors. 

Below is a summary of some of the facts and issues related to this proposal.

Who owns Gramatan Tower?

Gramatan Tower (7 Pondfield Road) is owned by Pondfield Associates LLC. 

Robert A. Cohen, president and founder of R. A. Cohen & Associates, a New York City company described on its website as a "real estate investor and manager," is the managing member of Pondfield Associates LLC.  

What are Pondfield Associates and AT&T Proposing?

According to the site development application and subsequent letters, AT&T has been authorized by Pondfield Associates LLC to file an application for approval to construct a wireless facility at 7 Pondfield Road. This would consist of twelve antennas that would be mounted close to the top of the tower. They would be hidden by a “stealth façade" and "slight modifications to the existing roof." This stealth façade would increase the width of the tower by approximately twenty-two inches per side.

The “associated equipment” would be located “within the building except for a generator.” The generator would be installed “upon the roof of the building tower though below the existing roof line.”

What are the Concerns?

Concerns about the plan for a wireless facility in Gramatan Tower include the following:

Health Concerns 

There is a concern about health risks due to continuous radio frequency emissions from the wireless facility affecting children sleeping and living in homes adjacent to antennas and at a nearby school. 

Aesthetic Considerations and Concern for Property Values. 

This new facility would require alterations to Gramatan Tower, including building it out twenty-two inches on all sides as well as adding an emergency back-up generator, which would be tested every week. 

There is a concern that the mere presence of a wireless facility and a back-up generator in the backyard of the owners of the Gramatan townhouses and other residents would reduce property values. 

Lack of an Overall Village Plan for Dealing with Wireless Facilities

Another concern is that this is a one-off situation and the village is not looking at the overall picture of wireless facilities in the village. There are other cell phone facilities currently on NYP-Lawrence Hospital. Will they be relocated? What will happen when 5G launches? The concern is that the village needs to create an overall plan for wireless facilities and these facilities should not be located in areas that are principally residential or near schools.

Structural Concerns

There is concern that the Gramatan Tower structure cannot handle a wireless facility or the vibrations of a generator. There has been no structural analysis of the tower.

Maintenance

Under an easement dating back to 1979, the owners of the Gramatan townhouses are required to “restore, repair, replace, alter and maintain” the elevator and the tower. There is a concern that the addition of the antennas would overburden the owners with increased obligations under the easement.

Historic Preservation

There is a concern about putting these antennas within the last remaining vestige of the historic Hotel Gramatan with its rich history. 

The next meeting of the Village of Bronxville Planning Board to consider this plan is April 10.   

Pictured here: Gramatan Tower.

Photo by N. Bower
 
 
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