Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Local Source: Cranford News 12/05/2007

Resistance Gains on Cell Tower Plan

By Paul Greulich, Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

CRANFORD, NJ - Opposition has increased over a proposal to erect a cell tower on the site of the Cranford Swimming Club as the application will be heard again on Monday before the Township Zoning Board.

The December 10th Zoning Board meeting will see the issue revisited as the applicant, Verizon, pursues the height and setback variances needed to place the 130-foot pole in a residential area. The pole would feature four separate antennae servicing companies that include Omnipoint, Sprint and Verizon. Revenue generated for the swim club by having the tower on their property has been estimated at exceeding $20,000.

Citizens’ concern has focused on aesthetics and location in relation to property lines and the adjoining park, but there has also been mention of health hazards associated with living near cell towers, a factor that remains a topic of concern despite not yet having been scientifically substantiated.

Citizens voiced these feelings at the Oct. 15 Zoning Board meeting as well as the Nov. 27 Township Committee meeting.

“If this can happen in our neighborhood, I want everyone to know it can happen in their neighborhood,” one resident said. Township officials encouraged the residents who spoke to make their voices heard before the Zoning Board.

Public Safety Commissioner George McDonough was vocal on his opposition to the tower.

“In four weeks or so I’ll be a citizen and I look forward to joining forces with you,” said McDonough.

The subject of Mayor Michael Plick and Finance Commissioner David Robinson’s status as members of the Cranford Swimming Club was also brought up as a potential conflict of interests. Plick pointed out that the issue is currently before the Zoning Board, of which neither he, Robinson or any other commissioners are members.
“If at any pont in time a conflict should arise, I would recuse myself,” Plick said.

Residents also complained about the amount of time, money and effort it was costing them to oppose the potential project.

“We’re going to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for an attorney to represent us in this case,” said Westfield resident Jack Shuvart whose home borders the Township of Cranford and in turn the swim club. “It should be thrown out quick. This takes a lot out of our lives.”

Since the proposal appeared, opposition has arisen from other sources as well. The State Historic Preservation Office has stated that the tower must be canceled or modified to mitigate its impact upon the adjacent Lenape Park and the Rahway River Park historic district.

Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski said the Freeholder Board fully supports this opinion, and is advocating against the construction of the cell tower.

“The park is eligible for landmark status and that means the state sets certain guidelines for what can be done near a park considered a historic place or on the register to be on the list of historic places,” Kowalski explained.

No one on the Swimming Club Board could be reached for comment.

Public Affairs Commissioner George Jorn said it might only be a small contingent in the club’s leadership that is pushing for the project. He pointed out that the club has remained silent despite the concern surrounding the issue.

“They probably know they’re doing something wrong,” Jorn said.

Article Courtesy of