Soaring 'Cell Phone Tree' Emerges over Amherst Neighborhood

Tower construction follows extensive community opposition

Tom Puckett
September 13, 2019 - 4:00 am

WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger


Amherst, NY (WBEN) If you were driving along Sheridan Drive Thursday, you may have noticed work crews putting the finishing touches on a soaring cell phone tower tucked behind plazas and along private property in the Town of Amherst.  Workers were actually installing fake branches on the structure to make it look like surrounding evergreen trees in the area.

Neighbors in the Dellwood area fought hard and long to stop a cell tower resembling a tree from being built in their backyards. In the end and after a court battle, the opponents lost. Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa says he feels for them.

Kulpa says he inherited the situation. "At one point in was going to be put at Garnet Park, before I came in," says Kulpa. "Nobody wanted that. They didn't want to tear down woodlands for it. Then Verizon went to the private sector location where they could build, and a lot of residents didn't want it. I didn't want it, the town board didn't want it, but under state law, utility companies have the ability to build to fill out their needs." Kulpa asked Verizon for coverage maps to try and find an unobtrusive site.

Kulpa says he was asked about eminent domain but in the end all it would do is chase the tower from one place to the next. "It's out of our capacity to stop it," explains Kulpa.

The tower was aimed to resemble a tree to help blend in. "If you had trees close to it, it would be one thing. It just obnoxiously large, it would still stand out too much and it's obviously fake. I don't know if it's much better to have a monopole but this seemed to be the direction everyone was moving toward. It drives me nuts," says Kulpa.

Dellwood residents had been petitioning for years to keep the tower away from their neighborhoods. They've expressed numerous concerns about it, including:

Permanent destruction to and disruption of precious wetlands that our local ecosystem depends on to help slow down flooding, filter groundwater, and provide a safe harbor and rich habitat for a multitude of animal and plant life.

Irreparable damage to the integrity and character of our neighborhood and parklands due to the industrial intrusion that an unsightly 90+ foot cell tower would cause.

Potential health hazards from overexposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) that cell towers and antennas emit 24 hours a day.

Daily noise from the cell tower’s backup generator.

Light pollution due to the massive loss of trees that would be cleared on and around the proposed site.

Potential risk to residents and property from falling ice from the tower.

Potential risk to residents and property due to the cell tower falling from high winds. The proposed tower is only built to withstand wind speeds of up to 40 MPH. Our area frequently experiences record wind speeds well above that.

A decrease in property values by 2% to 20% with the percentage moving toward the higher range the closer the property is to the tower. 

Residents affected include those on Dellwood Road, Garnet Road, Roman Lane, Snyderwoods Court, N. Ivyhurst Road, Hardt Lane, Getzville Road, Joliet Lane, Hedstrom Drive, Berwin Drive, Koster Row, Ivyhurst Road, Fairlawn Drive, Bondcroft Drive, Four Winds Way, Main Street, Westfield Road, Danebrock Drive, and Maynard Drive

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