Town Hires Lawyer to Fight 16th Tower In 4.5 Mile Radius

Written by Michelle Gladden | Staff Writer
http://www.app.com/article/20110716/NJNEWS/307170009/Lawyer-retained-to-fight-cell-tower

OCEAN TOWNSHIP — T-Mobile’s proposal to erect a 100-foot wireless communications tower at Wayside United Methodist Church has prompted residents of the nearby Rolling Meadows senior community to hire a lawyer.

“It doesn’t have any business being in a residential zone,” said homeowners association board president Ceil Apollo. “The residents bought here without any cell tower, then all of a sudden we have to live with this.”

The residential group’s attorney, Thomas J. Hirsch, said he will look to protect homeowner interests during the wireless company’s current hearing before the township Zoning Board of Adjustment. He said the group is concerned about how the tower will affect the neighborhood’s aesthetic, the residents’ standard of living and their property values.

So far, T-Mobile Northeast LLC attorney Frank Ferro has presented radio frequency experts who have testified about the need for a tower, citing lack of in-home and in-car service.

“The problem is not that the cell tower cannot talk to the cell phones, but that the cell phones cannot talk to the cell tower,” radio frequency expert Joseph Menio said during the July 14 hearing.

Township engineer William Higgins said the applicant should provide the board with the specifics behind the need to construct the tower in the residential zone and why existing cell sites cannot be upgraded or reconstructed to remedy deficiencies.

“The natures of these descriptions seem both subjective and ambiguous,” Higgins said.

Currently, there are 15 T-Mobile towers within a 4.5 mile radius and five within a 2-mile radius of the proposed West Park Avenue site, according to project documents. Two others are being proposed in nearby municipalities.

Menio said wireless companies try to provide the best coverage by triangulating a honeycomb pattern of towers but due to logistics, it cannot always be achieved. He said the 100-foot height is the minimum needed to remedy the existing coverage deficiencies.

“Their R-F expert said our homes don’t have in-home service but we are very happy with our service,” said Rolling Meadows home association board member Tom Means. “We don’t want this tower. You are not doing us a favor.”

The tower is to be located south of the 328-home development near Wayside cemetery and the Ocean Township Intermediate School. Because municipal laws prohibit such towers in residential zones, the wireless company is seeking a use variance that requires at least a five-out-seven approval from the zoning board.

“Our residents are concerned about what effect the cell tower will have on their property values,” said board member Ken Snagusky.

Michelle Gladden: 732-643-4095; mgladden@njpressmedia.com

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