Story by Chris Engelhardt.
A Long Beach resident has called on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to allay her concerns with upgraded cell phone antennas that were relocated directly above her apartment. Follow Long Beach Patch on Facebook.
Jen Bambino, 39, who resides in a penthouse at Granada Towers, at 310 Riverside Blvd., said Topper Realty, the management company at the building, and the condominium’s Board of Managers agreed to allow AT&T to relocate its antennas on the roof her her penthouse last July. The antennas were previously located on the parapet walls facing outward on the north, west and east sides of the building. But due to major ongoing reconstruction at the building, they were relocated to her roof.
“I’m concerned about the structural damage to my home,” said Bambino, who bought her home in 2006. “There’s no consideration, and no one notified me.”
Bambino recently discovered numerous cracks in her ceiling, as well as leaks in her apartment after heavy rainstorms. She also raised concern about notice signs outside of her apartment, indicating that she is in an area where radio frequency emissions may exceed the Federal Communications Commission general population exposure limits.
“When the [antennas] used to be on the walls, I would see the single poles shaking in the wind,” Babino said, noting that she believes the cracks were either caused by the weight of the antenna structure or by the vibrations from wind gusts.
During the relocation process, Bambino hired an attorney, Andrew Campanelli, of Campanelli & Associates, P.C., based in Merrick, and they discovered from the city’s Building Department that AT&T moved the antennas and formed a new upgraded structure without a legitimate permit. They reached out to Corey Klein, the city’s corporation counsel.
“There is no building permit,” Campanelli said. “There’s a temporary building permit. They have an expiration date — this one doesn’t.”
Campanelli noted that Building Commissioner Scott Kemins granted permission only for the temporary relocation of the antennas on the roof to make structural repairs to the building. He believes, however, that AT&T has no intention of moving its antennas back to the building’s walls.
But since management and the condo’s board agreed on the decision, Bambino’s only option is to request that the zoning board deny AT&T’s application for a variance from city code. The zoning board held a public hearing on the application on Jan. 24, and will render a decision at the next meeting on Feb. 21. If the zoning board approves the application, the antennas will remain permanently atop Bambino’s home, Campanelli said.
“We’ve opposed AT&T’s application,” he said. “Frankly, it’s a disgrace how the condo’s Board of Managers have conducted themselves.”
But Marc Schneider, a Garden City-based attorney for the condominium’s Board of Managers, said that the board took Bambino’s concerns “very seriously,” and that a study was ordered to examine the radio frequency emissions levels. The study was done by Pinnacle Telecom Group, AT&T's contractor for the radio frequency emissions test.
“The study determined there was no issue — the exposure level was well below the permissible levels of the FCC, and she was provided with the study,” Schneider said of Babino. He added that because the antennas were built on “common property,” the roof, “there was no requirement that her consent be obtained” by the board.
Brian Topper, an owner at Topper Realty, said that the decision to relocate the cell phone antennas “took into account the safety of residents.
“The roof of the condominium was selected by the AT&T engineers,” Topper continued. “When Bambino voiced concerns . . . a test was done on the location that determined the location to be safe and suitable.”
Campanelli, however, disputed the Pinnacle study, calling it “inaccurate,” and said that he is confident the board will deny AT&T’s application. But if it is approved, he said, litigation will likely follow.
“We may have no choice but to sue,” he said. “This is going to dramatically reduce the value of her home. And what about the damages? Who will pay for that? It will have to be AT&T, or the condo’s Board of Managers.”
MORE TOP NEWS
Become a blogger today!
Get started now