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East Villagers Say Giant Antenna Ruins Their Views

By Patrick Hedlund | February 9, 2011 2:34pm | Updated on February 10, 2011 6:07am

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — A towering antenna built atop an East 11th Street building is irking neighbors who want the illegal metallic structure torn down because it obstructs views from their apartments.

A group of residents on the block have been petitioning the city to remove the 30-foot radio antenna after the Department of Buildings ruled it illegal under the area's zoning laws.

The antenna went up in mid-2009, residents say, and is being used by just one building tenant to operate an amateur radio.

The tenant, Paul Isaacs, who lives at 231 East 11th St. between Second and Third avenues, claimed the antenna was installed legally and that he is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate his radio. Isaacs did obtain a permit for the antenna after it was built, but the city has since revoked it.

Residents, citing a recent stop-work order issued by the DOB, are pressing the city to have it taken down once and for all.

"Whenever we have guests over, they take one look at it and say, 'Oh my God, what is that?'" said Greg Ramsey, who's lived at 235 East 11th St. since 1988 and whose outdoor terraces sits about 12 feet away from the antenna. "It's like a military installation or something."

He explained that a skylight in his bedroom used to yield open views before the antenna was built, and that the structure extends over his property line when it's rotated to pick up signals.

"It just seems extremely selfish to have this huge tower for one man to be running his ham radio from," Ramsey added. "It's obtrusive and inappropriate."

Another neighbor, whose southern views of the historic St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery steeple have been broken by the antenna, even claimed that a potential buyer in his building walked away after seeing the structure.

"The impact from an aesthetic standpoint and safety standpoint — you can see the thing is just absolutely enormous," said Daniel Persin, a 16-year resident of 226 E. 12th St. whose wife has lived there since 1989.

Persin, an airplane pilot who said he's familiar with large antennas, is worried about the stability of a 30-foot high structure constructed without the proper permits.

"Having this to serve simply one person's hobby even though it violates city code, it's not appropriate and it's not responsible in our neighborhood."

Isaacs, whose father is listed in property records as the building's owner, acknowledged that the antenna serves his amateur radio operation, but disputed that it is illegal and allegedly scaring away possible buyers.

"That's a bunch of baloney," he said, equating the antenna to a flagpole someone could erect on their property.

Isaacs, who grew up in the building, said the antenna allows him to communicate with radio operators all over the world.

"It was put up professionally and it's been approved," he added. "I didn't do anything in a precarious manner."

But a DOB spokeswoman said that the antenna's permit has been revoked, and that the department will pursue any necessary enforcement action to make the property comply with building regulations.

Annoyed residents have also gotten help from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, whose offices sit right across the street from the antenna.

"It's a dangerous and disturbing situation," said Andrew Berman, GVSHP's executive director. "Who would want to wake up and find a 30-foot tower erected on a building next door to them swinging past their window? This could do harm to people and to buildings, and we really want the city to take swift action."

Neighbors have communicated their concerns to Isaacs, but he hasn't budged.

"I just cant believe you can get away with putting a 30-foot tower on your building," Ramsey said, adding that he's even heard broadcasts coming through his apartment's speaker system.

"The neighborhood should chip in and maybe buy this guy a computer so he can get on the Internet instead of ham radio. He's got to think of his neighbors, also."