The Grand Island Town Board passed a local law that will allow cellular towers to be placed much closer to other buildings than they had been in the past.

The law reduces the required safety fall zone to one-and-a-half times the height of a tower’s highest breaking point. A previous law required a safety zone of five-and-a-half times a tower’s height in order to prevent the tower from hitting anything if it fell.

Modern towers have been engineered with special break points so that a tower would collapse in on itself rather than toppling to the side if it were to fall over. That makes a larger fall zone unnecessary, the board said.

“If we were taken to court by a cell company to challenge that larger drop zone, we wouldn’t be able to fight it,” said Councilman Ray Billica. “I don’t want to vote yes on this, but I feel I have no choice.”

Each of the board members voted to pass the law while acknowledging that it is unpopular. Wireless access is deemed an essential service by the federal government, so the town is required to accommodate such towers.

“We are required to let them have one,” Billica said. “We can’t say no.”