Richard Gere is angering residents of a wealthy New York town with plans to build a 130-foot cellphone tower on the grounds of his 14-acre hotel estate.
According the New York Post, the proposal is expected to be approved by the Bedford, New York, town planning board. The tower, which would be erected on the grounds of the Bedford Post Inn, would fill service gaps for emergency responders in the town.
The "Pretty Woman" actor co-owns the ritzy eight-room inn with real estate developer Russell Hernandez.
Reports said Bedford Town Supervisor Ellen Calves asked the co-owners over the summer if they would offer the grounds of their hotel for the tower. They agreed, but some people allege a quid pro quo was involved. Roxanne Spruance, who co-owns the hotel's Michelin-rated bistro, The Barn, and was once featured on "Chopped," said the Bedford Post Inn's expansion plans were immediately approved after the land was offered up.
The site was settled on after the board rejected two previous cell tower locations and after Verizon sued the town. The telecom giant argued that Federal Telecommunications Act requires a tower within Bedford.
"Many members of the public were imploring the town board to find a less intrusive alternative," Ellen, the aforementioned Bedford Town Supervisor, told the New York Post. "Given that the Post Inn property is commercial, and in the town code commercial property is considered 'less intrusive' than residential sites, I was looking … to see if they would consider this."
A-listers who live in and around Bedford include Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, Matt Damon, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively and sisters Rooney and Kate Mara. Jerry Seinfeld's sister Carolyn Liebling is also a resident of the area, and she's argued against the tower. In fact, she and others have asked a judge to block the proposal.
"Just because people who have money and power are threatening legal action, that doesn't mean that they get more deference than anyone else," Ellen said. "We have to make the right decision for the whole town. This is a matter of public safety and quality of life."
Many in the town see the tower as both an eyesore and a headache.
"They're trying to steamroll this through with little fanfare. It's rough," the "Chopped" winner said. "This will be right outside my living room window. And we've all been places with construction projects going on. It sucks."