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Developer begins building cell tower by historic Nelsonville cemetery following 7 years of challenges from the village

Both the village government and a group of at least 15 residents apparently reached points where they could no longer afford to fight the tower's developer, Homeland Towers, in court.

Ben Nandy

May 30, 2024, 10:27 PM

Updated 17 days ago

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Construction of a cell tower by a historic cemetery in Putnam County has begun after a seven-year legal battle involving a developer, a village government and a community group.
Both the village government and a group of at least 15 residents apparently reached points where they could no longer afford to fight the tower's developer, Homeland Towers, in court.
Homeland has broken ground on the cell tower behind Cold Spring Cemetery in Nelsonville and right by several homes, just as they originally planned in 2017.
The company faced opposition from various village boards and the citizens' group over the years.
Village officials first tried to convince Homeland to build the tower in another spot that would loom over Main Street.
The citizens' group sued Homeland, claiming the tower would hurt the landscape and the environment.
With federal law in their favor and with its legal team, Homeland prevailed at each turn.
"It kind of will take away from the feel of the town," said college sophomore Kate Meisner.
She said she understands the opposition of the project, but also that cell reception in the area needs a boost.
"Yeah, I know the service is bad," she said. "So maybe it will help."
Once completed, the tower will peak up through the trees on the far side of the cemetery, opposite the entrance on Peekskill Road.
According to village records, some residents wrote to village officials encouraging them to accept a settlement with Homeland that included some concessions.
For one, Homeland agreed to build the tower 95 feet high, instead of the originally planned 110 feet.
The company is also planning to outfit the tower with branches to help it blend in with its surroundings.
According to illustrations submitted by Homeland, the structure would stand at just over 100 feet tall.
"Well, it still looks like a kindergartner's drawing of a pine tree," village resident David Limburg said.
He is disappointed that the tower will loom over a historic cemetery where several local veterans are buried.
He accepts, though, that the village government does not have finances to continue a legal fight and encouraged the village to accept the 2020 settlement.
"It does sting that there was so much money involved on the side of the cell tower company, that our community couldn't fight back," he said.
Nelsonville Mayor Chris Winward told News 12 in an email Thursday the village is "very empathetic" to nearby residents.
"No one wants a cell tower in their backyard," Winward wrote. "However, as you can see from the lengthy legal history, it is unfortunately out of our hands."
Homeland Towers had not yet responded as of Thursday evening to multiple requests from News 12 seeking comment for this story.


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