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Cheektowaga residents oppose cell tower on Little League property

About 30 residents crowded a Cheektowaga Town Board meeting Tuesday night to oppose the construction of a 135-foot cell tower on a parcel of land that holds several Little League diamonds.

"The access road to the tower would be located between two dugouts, winding through playing fields," said Keith Szen of Woodgate Drive. "When children are catching balls they could be literally running from a grassy area to a gravel roadway. The tower is inherently unsafe and dangerous."

The project proposed by Blue Wireless would be built and maintained by Upstate Construction Services.

Residents living near the proposed construction site said they were informed of the project by a letter they received in December from Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.

Kathleen Czerniejewski of Martinique Drive arrived at Cheektowaga Town Hall well before the 7 p.m. meeting started. She carried a sign stating: "No tower in residential backyard."

Czerniejewski also brought a notebook full of information recorded at previous meetings. The 38-year resident of Martinique said her property would be 200 feet from the proposed tower. Her concern centered on the adverse effects the tower could have on her health and the value of her property.

"The tower would be close to three baseball diamonds," she said. "It would be located in a highly residential neighborhood. Our property values would go down statistically 20 to 30 percent."

Southline Little League, formerly known as Southline Athletic Association, sponsors boys and girls softball and baseball teams. The oldest league in Cheektowaga, it was formed in 1975 by a group of neighbors who purchased the land a decade later "because there wasn't enough diamonds in town," said Czerniejewski.

Ralph Majchrowicz, 72, is a former Southline Athletic Association officer and a leader in the tower opposition. Foremost on his mind was the deed restriction he said is on the property.

"We paid for the land, we know there is a deed restriction," said the retired systems analyst with Erie Community College. "Placing a 135-foot tower on the property would clearly be a violation. We just want it enforced."

Majchrowicz, who said the restriction limited the land's use to recreational purposes, said it was put into place by the West Seneca School District from whom the land was purchased.

Also at issue is the application Blue Wireless filed with the town, said Melissa Reese, deputy town attorney.

"We have an incomplete application, we offered an alternative site and we have not received a response," Reese said.

The town offered a site on Losson Road as an alternative location, added Councilmember James P. Rogowski. The offer was made February 7, he said.

The informational presentation by the citizen's action group called "Keep Kids Safe" ran more than 20 minutes. No action was taken on the item.

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