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Chappaqua Residents Petition Saw Mill DOT Towers

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- An online petition is being circulated among Chappaqua, Mount Pleasant and Pleasantville residents in response to the proposed installation of 120-foot microwave towers by the Department of Transportation.

The DOT's proposal calls for seven towers to be installed throughout the area in order to collect data and monitor traffic on state-controlled highways. 

While all affected town and village governments have expressed unanimous opposition to the project, one local has spearheaded a petition among residents to also fight the installation of the towers.

Pleasantville resident Mark Markarian created the petition, titled "Stop the Monstrous DOT Microwave Towers in Westchester," which calls upon the DOT to review its proposal or search for alternative measures of monitoring traffic.

"The beauty of Pleasantville and its valley will be mutilated by the state's DOT if they install these monstrous microwave-powered camera towers," said Markian. "This will depreciate home values across a mile-wide diameter of each of the three towers planned for Pleasantville."

Markian also cited health, safety and privacy issues as reasons for his opposition. "At 120 feet in the air, these cameras will be peering into our homes and backyards," he said.

If the DOT ultimately decides to move ahead with the project, Markarian hopes the state will consider more aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly alternatives. 

Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer said the installation of microwave towers for the Saw Mill River Parkway is being proposed as a cost-saving measure, as opposed to fiber-optic systems that are being used in other areas of the project. He said 120-foot towers would be necessary, as the antennas need to reach above the trees.

The fiber-optic system would run from the Bronx to the Taconic / Saw Mill Parkway interchange. During the 17-mile stretch of parkway, the DOT would install 40-foot high poles to mount its cameras.

"We wouldn’t be protesting if that’s what they wanted to do," said Markian. "But for whatever reason they decided to do the last 6.3 miles with monstrous microwave-powered camera towers and that is completely unacceptable."

In response to the opposition the project has received, the DOT met with village and town officials on Friday in hopes of coming to a resolution. Sue Stepp, Hudson Valley regional spokesperson for the New York State DOT, said it hopes to have solid information to report by the end of the week or early next week. 

"Being a large agency we can't just snap our fingers and make a decision," Stepp said. "We have to run it through Albany and so on and so forth." 

The petition, which was created on Monday, currently has 128 signatures. Facebook and Yahoo! groups have also been created in protest.

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