Pole position: City says Verizon broke the law

The city says a telecommunications giant broke the law when it installed two 20-foot-tall fiberglass poles in two historic districts in Brooklyn without getting permission to do so, and now residents are demanding the obelisks come down.

Verizon says it has been installing the poles around the city as access points to its underground network of cables it’s using to broaden its high-speed Internet and cable service.

But some of those poles are in historic districts, and the company broke the law by failing to clear them with the Landmarks Preservation Commission — even though it got permits to put them up from the Department of Transportation.

Neighbors who were enraged over the presence of the poles were further annoyed after finding out that Verizon did the work without all necessary approvals from the city.

“The fact that they would go ahead and do that without considering the neighborhood is pretty shocking,” said Nancy Beranbaum, co-president of the Fiske Terrace Association, which has called for the removal of the pole on E. 18th Street between Foster Avenue and Glenwood Road.

But Verizon denies they skipped a step in the process.

“While Verizon placed the pole with all required approvals, we will continue to explore options that minimize the impact of these facilities on the communities we serve,” the company said in a statement.

Verizon would not disclose where else in Brooklyn it has installed the poles, but a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said that the city has given out 142 Brooklyn permits to the company for the monoliths.

The city was made aware of the illegal poles by an e-mailed complaint, said Elisabeth DeBourbon of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“We are working with the company on how to resolve the issue with the pole,” said DeBourbon, who said the city will not fine or punish the corporation.

Verizon claims the tall poles are less likely to be vandalized and are more efficient than the more common squat metal boxes found in other parts or the city.

But residents say that those problems don’t exist in their neighborhood, and the poles need to go.

“As far as were concerned, they vandalized our neighborhood by putting in that pole,” said Beranbaum.

DeBourbon said the city does consider the poles too big for the neighborhood and are currently in talks with Verizon to find better conduits.

In Greenpoint, neighbors were also flummoxed by the sudden appearance last month of the 20-foot monstrosity on Milton Street at Manhattan Avenue.

“Nobody likes it. Everybody wishes it were gone,” said Dorothy Gerace, who lives on Milton Street.

Verizon did return e-mails seeking comment on the Greenpoint pole.


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