Friday, November 30, 2007

Cranford Chronicle 11/30/2007

Letter to the Editor

Friday, November 30, 2007

Swim Club Cell Tower Just Doesn't Belong

To The Chronicle:

I wished to read the following statement at the Oct. 15 Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting held at the Cranford municipal building, but was unable to do so due to time constraints:

My husband and I have lived in Westfield since 1965 and have raised our five children here in the same home. They are good citizens and caring adults. We chose this area because we are nature lovers and wanted our family to enjoy the peace and beauty of the woods and watch the animals and birds who live here. We belonged to the Cranford Swimming Club for many years -- at least 25 -- and our children worked at the club during their summer vacations. They still have many friends in Westfield and Cranford. As our children left to pursue their lives, we resigned our membership.

We have been good citizens, paid our taxes, helped in our community and counted on being treated fairly and protected by our government and its laws. We are in our 70s and hoped to live here until illness or death. We recently began upgrading the landscaping in our front yard and plan to put in new shrubs and lawn.

On Oct. 6, our peace was shattered when we received a certified letter informing us that Cranford Swimming Club, whose property abuts our back yard, was allowing a 130-foot (13-story) cell phone tower and big storage buildings containing electrical equipment to be erected on its property, or as close to Westfield as possible, and practically in our and our neighbors' back yards. The letter stated that at least four cell phone companies were seeking to obtain variances to accomplish this at a meeting to be held at the Cranford Zoning Board on Oct. 15 -- only a few days away!

When we saw their plans, we couldn't believe that this ugly project would be so close to our homes. The massive tower would loom over our residential areas in Westfield and Cranford.

We feel it does not belong here due to its immense size and ugly industrial appearance. It would be plainly visible to people who run, walk, take photos or wish to spend time with nature in adjoining Lenape Park. These people are trying to get away from this type of atmosphere and it would be right in their faces if this were approved. This monster should be -- if anywhere -- in an industrial area, a busy highway, or isolated area with no homes nearby, but not here! It should not be located next to homes in a residential area or destroy the beauty of a park area, of which we have too little of in Union County. Anyone can see it doesn't belong here except if you are blinded by greed!

Cranford Swimming Club and the cell phone companies, Verizon Wireless, Omnipoint, Cingular and Sprint, would be reaping huge financial rewards while the people who live here in Westfield and Cranford will incur loss of property values (some very severe) and have to live with this ugly "Goliath" 24 hours a day. It would destroy our area!

Westfield recently shot down a proposal for a smaller cell phone tower in this area and, at that time, it was determined that adequate cell phone communications existed here.

If this project is approved it would be difficult to stay here because our quality of life would be so diminished. The tower is so high it would loom over our homes and be plainly visible from inside and outside. It would be located 14 feet off our next door neighbor's property. It would have to have some illumination because of its height and noise and pollution possibilities due to 24-hour operation.

We moved here because we wanted to be with trees and nature, not to have an industrial-looking monster imposed upon us. Also, it would be almost impossible to get a fair price for our home because who would want to purchase a house with a cell phone tower looming 13 stories above the property? The financial equity we have built up over the years in our home would be destroyed and the quality of our lives and our neighbors' lives would be severely impacted, both financially and emotionally.

What good are laws if powerful interests can seek variances to go around them or subvert them completely to their own ends? The residents of Westfield and Cranford have to be protected by their zoning boards, or what good are they?

There will be a very important meeting on Dec. 10 at the Cranford municipal building concerning the future of this proposal. Call the Zoning Board at (908) 709-7216 for confirmation and time of meeting.