Friday, November 30, 2007

Cranford Chronicle 11/30/2007

Swim Club Neighbors Voice Anger Over Cell Tower

Friday, November 30, 2007

CRANFORD - In the quiet stretch of forest that borders Lenape Park, a battle is underway.

The fight has been joined between wireless phone companies who say they are trying to meet the growing demand for service, and local residents who say they want to preserve their way of life. Nearly 50 residents attended a Township Committee meeting Tuesday night asking elected officials to support strict enforcement of zoning laws.

The application, which will be continued before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Dec. 10, is an effort by a cooperative of four phone companies to build a 130-foot monopole tower and a 2,760-square foot equipment compound at the Cranford Swimming Club (CSC) on County Park Drive.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Mobile, AT& T and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile, say they need the tower to fill a gap in coverage, but residents in Cranford and Westfield have expressed concern about the impact the pole would have on their health, aesthetics and property values. While the proposal is for a site owned by the CSC, the application is being presented by the phone companies, which would pay a rental fee to the club for the land if the plan is approved.

Kim Ancin, a spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, the lead company in the application, said the location of the proposed tower is about providing the best service as demand for wireless communications increases. The tower location is not selected randomly, Ancin said. "There's a lot of testing that goes on before a site is ever determined," she said.

But that does little to quell the concern of residents from Cranford and Westfield, who say the proposed tower would dwarf everything in the area, transforming the feel of their residential neighborhood. Residents said they have hired an attorney to represent their interests as the application proceeds.

On Tuesday night, Joe Muratore told the Township Committee he and his wife bought their home on Kenilworth Boulevard because it was nestled between Lenape and Nomahegan parks. The proposed cell tower "doesn't belong in a residential neighborhood," Muratore said.

His wife, Audrey Muratore, made similar statements on a recent day as she and Westfield resident Myron Kesselhaut toured the area behind Kesselhaut's home.

From his back yard, Kesselhaut can clearly see through a chain link fence into the swim club's property. Kesselhaut said when he bought his home 38 years ago he knew he shared a property line with the club, but he fell in love with an expansive backyard and the natural setting that expands to the wooded area behind his home.

Kesselhaut said the original letter notifying residents of the plan left him confused about the tower's proposed location. After obtaining a copy of the project plans, he and a neighbor were able to pinpoint the location, which he says is just 14 feet from his shared property line with the swim club.

During testimony at the first hearing on the proposal in October, witnesses for the phone company said the tower would be nearly 250 feet from Kesselhaut's back door, but he said that does not take into account the 20-foot deck behind his home.

"I feel they're misleading people as to where (the cell tower) is," added Audrey Muratore.

The neighbors say they are also worried that the height of the tower and a planned diesel generator will create safety concerns that could affect their homeowners' insurance policies. What makes them most angry, perhaps, is their belief that the swim club is not being a good neighbor.

"This shows a total disregard for the surrounding neighborhood," Audrey Muratore said. "The only people who are going to do well by this are the people swimming in that pool."

Kesselhaut said he has been willing to accommodate inconveniences, but the proposal for a cell tower crosses the line.

"I hear the noise when they play tennis, but I let it go. They often leave the lights on, which doesn't bother me. But when these leaves are down and those lights are on, I don't have to put the lights on in my house," Kesselhaut said. "I don't think this is fair."

Requests for comment from the president of the swim club, Trudy Allen, were not returned this week, and the attorney for the club, Nicholas Giuditta, referred questions to the phone companies' attorney.

Kesselhaut's complaints were echoed Tuesday night, when Westfield residents John and Jenny Schuvart spoke before the Township Committee.

Jenny Schuvart suggested that Cranford form a committee to identify desirable locations for cell towers that are outside of residential areas. "There's something lacking when big corporations can come in and dictate what they want and we have to go out and defend our way of life," she said.

Township Attorney Carl Woodward explained to the crowd that the Board of Adjustment is an autonomous body that operates without direction from the Township Committee. However, he lauded the group's decision to hire an attorney and said a large turn-out could affect the board's deliberations.

Township commissioners are generally discouraged from commenting on pending land-use applications. Of the three commissioners present Tuesday, only George McDonough spoke about his opinion of the application, saying his personal legal counsel had advised him he could address the issue.

McDonough, who recently lost his re-election bid, said he felt compelled to side with residents. "I agree with you, this is not the kind of thing we want to have in a residential neighborhood," he said. "In about four weeks I will be a (private) citizen, and I look forward to joining forces with you," McDonough said to a round of applause.

The residents in the area are not the only ones objecting to the plan. The State Historic Preservation Office has objected to the location because Lenape Park is part of the Rahway River Parkway Historic District.

"The project will have an adverse effect on the Historic District," Preservation Officer Dorothy P. Guzzo wrote. "Please note that this is not a close call. Setting is an integral part of the park experience."

A similar objection came from Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski, who said she is "not in favor of permitting anything that obstructs the view from a Union County park."

When the application is continued on Dec. 10, a professional planner and radio frequency expert are expected to testify before the Board of Adjustment.

Leslie Murray is staff writer for the Chronicle. She can be reached at (732) 396-4205 or

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.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Residents Speak Out! 11/27/2007

Several residents of both Cranford and Westfield were present at the Cranford Township Committee meeting this evening which was televised live on Cranford's local television station, TV35.

Among comments made to the Cranford Township Committee:

Joseph Muratore, 106 Kenilworth Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the cell antenna tower that is being proposed at the Cranford Swim Club. Discussed a law that prohibits the placement of such towers within 390 feet of the nearest residential property. Expressed concern regarding the potential impact this could have on property values. Explained that residents have hired an attorney to assist them with this issue. Feels the Township Committee should designate specific areas within the Township, such as industrial areas, for these types of towers. Also urged members of the Swim Club to voice opposition to proposal.

Deputy Mayor Puhak reminded residents that the Township Committee is prohibited from commenting on issues that are currently before the Board of Adjustment.

Township Attorney Woodward discussed the need for residents to speak before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, explaining that that is where their voices would be most effective. Discussed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations and the local land use law in connection with the construction of cell phone antennas. Explained that any owner of private property can request a variance from the Board of Adjustments at any time. Discussed the quasi-judicial made up of the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the application process that must be followed.

Commissioner McDonough stated that he has consulted legal counsel on this matter who advised him that he could provide comment on the issue. Stated that he agrees with the residents and is looking forward to joining forces with them next year.

Jack Schuvart, 40 Manitou Circle, Westfield, questioned why it is the responsibility of residents to hire an attorney to protect them from existing laws. Feels that the applicant is requesting that three (3) to four (4) existing laws be changed or altered to support its application.

Commissioner McDonough explained that the applicant is not requesting that laws be changed, but is seeking variances from the existing land development ordinance. Discussed the variance process. Reminded residents that the Township Committee appoints the members of the Board of Adjustment.

Mr. Schuvart discussed financial and emotional stress residents are facing because of this application.

Donald Graham, 30 Nomahegan Court, feels it is unfair that the proceeds from the cell antenna would be paid to a private club. Feels the proceeds should benefit the Township.

Commissioner McDonough discussed a previous proposal to place a cell tower on the property located behind the municipal building. Stated that residents living on Forest Avenue were opposed to this proposal and voiced their opinions, which resulted in the Township Committee’s decision to reject the proposal.

Genny Schuvart, 40 Manitou Circle, Westfield, stated that other municipalities have formed committees to investigate which locations within a municipality would be appropriate for these types of structures. Feels Cranford should form such a committee. Questioned the validity of zoning ordinances if they are not enforced to protect residents.

Myron Borden, 3 Nomahegan Court, feels the matter should be investigated by the Township Committee to prevent this from happening in other neighborhoods. Discussed the process involved with obtaining a variance. Feels the ten (10) day time frame in which applicants have to notify residents is insufficient. Feels thirty (30) days notice should be required. Suggested the Township Committee adopt an ordinance to change the noticing requirements.

Township Attorney Woodward agrees that ten (10) days notice is insufficient when receiving notice of an application for a variance. Explained that under the State Municipal Land Use Law, ten (10) days is considered adequate notice and Cranford cannot override a State law. Encouraged residents to contact legislatures and request a change to the noticing requirements.

Alvin Rotker, 64 Manitou Circle, Westfield, explained that the applicant is proposing the installation of a 130-foot cell tower fourteen (14) feet from a residential neighborhood. Feels the Township should be aware of the adverse reaction of residents to this application.

Audrey Muratore, 106 Kenilworth Boulevard, discussed the first submission of the cell antenna tower application in 2005 by the Cranford Swim Club. Feels it is unfair that the residents were given ten (10) days notice when this has been occurring for two (2) years. Stated that there are ninety-two (92) cell tower structures located within six (6) miles of the Cranford Swim Club. Expressed concern regarding the affects the structure will have on property values. Feels this issue is a conflict of interest for Mayor Plick and Commissioner Robinson, as they both members of the Cranford Swim Club. Provided a website address for residents to sign a petition in opposition to this matter.

Commissioner Robinson agrees that there is a conflict. Stated that he was unaware of the application until it was presented to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Rita LaBrutto, 104 Arlington Road, discussed the County report in connection with the cell antenna application. Stated that the Zoning Office does not have a copy of the report and she had filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request with Union County for a copy. Feels the County should provide the Zoning Board of Adjustment with a copy of the report.

Commissioner McDonough believes that the County report that Ms. LaBrutto is referring to could be obtained from either the County Engineering Department or the County Planning Department. Stated that Freeholder B.J. Kowalski has expressed opposition to the application and mentioned the reasons why.

Carlos Collazo, 68 Manitou Circle, Westfield, discussed the permitted use of the Swim Club’s property. Feels the installation of a cell tower would not be beneficial to the public or in the best interest of the publics’ welfare. Questioned why the property owner of the Swim Club has not sought other uses for the property.

Michael Shuvart, 40 Manitou Circle, Westfield, discussed the Cranford Environmental Commission’s report in connection with the proposed cell tower. Stated that the Environmental Commission’s report indicated opposition to the proposal.

Thank you to all who were present and made their voices heard!

Continue the fight Cranford!

Update 11/27/2007

A huge thank you goes out to all of the many residents who were present and spoke at the Cranford Township Committee meeting this evening.

I want to personally thank everyone for taking the time out of their busy schedules to come forward and speak publicly about the current fight that we as residents are facing against the Cranford Swim Club.

This meeting was a great opportunity for the residents to share their insight and information with all neighboring townships and communities who may not yet be aware of the cell tower application that is currently pending in Cranford.

For those who may have missed the televised meeting, the Cranford Township Committee meeting will air again on TV35:

Wednesday/Thursday/Friday: 11:00am & 8:00pm

Saturday: 11:00am

Thanks again for all of the great work everyone!

Continue the fight Cranford!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Action Alert! Township Committee Meeting 11/27/2007

The Cranford Township Committee will hold it's next meeting on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 8:00pm at the Cranford Municipal Building, 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey.

This meeting will be televised on TV35.

During the Public Comment portion, any interested party may speak and participate therein in accordance with the rules of the Township Committee. Five minutes will be allotted to each resident who wishes to speak and make a public comment or statement on the record.

This will be an excellent opportunity to come together as a community and let our governing parties know that cell towers do not belong in our residential areas. It will also be an opportunity to share our story publicly; as many residents are still unaware of the enormity of the cell tower proposal at the Cranford Swim Club.

Please mark your calendars and make arrangements to attend.

We also encourage you to bring along your friends, family members, neighbors; everyone and anyone who is willing to attend. There is absolute power in numbers and we need to clearly show our opposition before this committee.

We hope to see you all there!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cranford Chronicle 11/16/2007

Letter to the Editor:

Parties Should Unite to Fight Cell Tower

To The Chronicle:

As a homeowner living on the street where a 13-story cell tower may some day be looming over me, I was happy to read in the newspaper that newly elected Township Commissioner Martha Garcia stated that she will be joining our resistance against it.

I hope that the four other Republican Township Committee members will agree to do the same. That will mean that this is an issue on which Republicans and Democrats will be working together to do the right thing for Cranford residents.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The Westfield Leader 11/15/2007

Letter to the Editor:

Those Pushing 130-ft. Cell Tower Have ‘Utter Disregard’ for Residents in Area

Verizon Wireless, Omnipoint, AT&T and Sprint have applied to the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment for seven separate variances to permit the erection of a 130 foot cell-phone tower on the Cranford Swim Club property at 201 County Park Drive in Cranford.

The tower would be located in the middle of a residential neighborhood and be adjacent to the walking trail that extends through Lenape Park.

As a resident of the neighborhood surrounding the swim club and as a frequent user of Lenape Park, I am strongly opposed to a cell-phone tower on this location because of the unknown potential health consequences from prolonged exposure to tower emissions, the resultant reduction in property values in the surrounding area and the ever-present eyesore that a cell-phone tower extending 50 feet above the tallest surrounding trees would constitute to all those living in the neighborhood and enjoying Lenape Park.

Locating a commercial structure and conducting a commercial activity in a residential neighborhood is grossly unfair to everyone else who lives in that neighborhood. In purposely choosing to live in a residential area near a county park, my neighbors and I have demonstrated our desire and commitment to share the rights and responsibilities of maintaining that residential community.

Our willingness to comply with residential restrictions and refrain from conducting commercial activities in our back yards evidences our respect for the rights of others around us to also enjoy the quality of life a residential neighborhood

For one party to be exempt from these rules and in so doing, negatively impact all others in the neighborhood, shows an utter disregard for the rights of everyone living around them. It’s rude, disrespectful, and just plain wrong.

I am perplexed that the members of the Cranford Swim Club, many of whom presumably live in the affected neighborhood, would find it acceptable that its management would offer up its property as a site for a cell-phone tower. It is sadly ironic that a swim club which owes its many years of existence to having been able to locate in a scenic, residential location with ample access to member-families, would now turn on the same community that treated it so well and compromise that residential atmosphere.

I hope that all residents of Cranford and Westfield share my concern and will support my neighbors and me in our opposition to the erection of this tower. I urge all residents to contact their elected officials and to attend the December 10 meeting of the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment at 8:15 p.m. to be held at the Cranford Municipal Building.

Finally, I respectfully ask that the members of the Cranford Swim Club please contact their board management and make it clear that they do not support the erection of a cell tower on their club property.

Mark O’Neil

Friday, November 9, 2007

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 12/10/2007

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation meeting for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, December 10, 2007 at the Cranford Municipal Building, 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey to consider the following.

Formal action may be taken.


Application #Z17-07: (Continuation)
New York SMSA Limited Partnership, Applicant
201 County Park Drive, Block 109, Lot 46, R-1 Zone

To permit construction of a telecommunications tower with the following variances/waivers:

Tower not permitted in the R-1 zone (136-33K(6);

To exceed the maximum allowable height for a tower (136-33K(10);

Less than the minimum required setback for a tower (136-33K(10)(b);

Less than the minimum required setback to a residential zone for a tower (136-33K(10)(c);

To exceed the maximum allowable square footage for an equipment cabinet (136-33K(12)(a);

Less than the minimum required front yard setback for equipment (136-30.6);

Less than the minimum required side yard setback (136-30.7)

PUBLIC PORTION - Any interested party may appear at said hearing and participate therein in accordance with the rules of the Zoning Board.

Please mark your calendars and make arrangements to attend. This meeting is absolutely crucial and we must have a strong residential turnout to show our complete opposition against this cell tower proposal!

We encourage you to bring along your friends, family members, neighbors; everyone and anyone who is willing to attend. There is absolute power in numbers and we need to clearly show our opposition before the board.

We hope to see you all there!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Meeting Tonight 11/08/2007

There will be a meeting tonight to further discuss the opposition concerns of the proposed cell tower to be located on the property of the Cranford Swim Club.

WHEN: Thursday, November 8, 2007

WHERE: Cranford Community Center - 220 Walnut Avenue, Cranford

TIME: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Please R.S.V.P. with your name, e-mail address and phone number to:

Please join us! We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Local Source: Cranford News 11/07/2007

Find Better Spot for Cell Tower

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

CRANFORD, NJ - An application to locate a 130-foot cell tower on the grounds of the Cranford Swimming Club is currently before the Cranford zoning board.

Greg Meese, attorney for the private club filing the application, said the phone companies have stated that the club on County Park Drive is a perfect spot for a cell tower because of the lack of service in that area.

The cell 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 annually.

Neighbors and others have lodged complaints against the tower including possible health hazards and that it is situated in a residential area.

In addition there have been other reasons for the board to vote against the cell tower. Both the Union County Freeholders and the state’s Historic Preservation Office have come out against the proposal. The cell tower at the club is near Lenape Park and the Rahway River Park historic district.

Bette Jane Kowalski, the Union County Freeholder chairwoman, pointed out that the Lenape Park’s eligibility for landmark status along with Rahway River Park’s historic status puts constraints on what can be built in the adjacent property, and in turn means the state sets certain guidelines. The state does not consider a cell tower as an applicable use near the historic district.

Despite the hue and cry of some of the residents and environmentalists about radiation coming from cell towers, a witness for the applicant testified that radio frequency exposure was well below Federal Communication Commission guidelines. And most cell towers have been found to not emit enough radiation to have a major impact in causing health problems.

But the location is still a major problem for the placement of the cell tower and we give credence to the county and the state for their concerns with the tower being located next to a historic district.
To a lesser extent the building of the cell tower could hinder an active bird watching community that frequents Lenape Park where some rare species have been sighted.

The cell tower application will be discussed again at the December 10 zoning board meeting.

We hope that the board decides that there could be other locations more fitting for a cell tower and that would not ruin the aesthetic nature of the residential and nearby park area.

Article Courtesy of

Friday, November 2, 2007

Update 11/02/2007


There will be a meeting to further discuss the opposition concerns of the proposed cell tower to be located on the property of the Cranford Swim Club.

WHEN: Thursday, November 8, 2007

WHERE: Cranford Community Center - 220 Walnut Avenue, Cranford

TIME: 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Please R.S.V.P. with your name, e-mail address and phone number to: We hope to see you there!


An online petition is now up and running! I urge everyone to sign the petition, as well as pass it along to others who would like to sign as well. Please click here to read and sign the petition.

Thank you again to all of the residents of Cranford, Westfield and all neighboring townships. Your overwhelming support has been amazing!

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly,, with any questions that you may have regarding the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Cranford Chronicle 11/02/2007

State: Proposed Cell Tower Threatens Historic Park

Friday, November 02, 2007

CRANFORD - A controversial proposal to construct a cell tower on County Park Drive would negatively impact the nearby Rahway River Parkway Historic District, according to a letter from the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.

The opinion does not carry regulatory authority, and a representative for Verizon Wireless, the lead member of a coalition of cell phone companies hoping to build the tower on the grounds of the Cranford Swimming Club, said the companies are in talks with the state office about how to address the concerns.

Still, the letter may carry some weight with the local Board of Adjustment, which began a hearing on the proposal on Oct. 15. And it is likely to add to the concerns of residents, who were out in force at that hearing and are expected to come out again when the hearing resumes Dec. 10.

The application to build a 130-foot monopole and 2,760-square foot equipment compound has been put forward by Verizon Wireless, Sprint Mobile, AT& T and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile. The companies say they need the tower to fill a gap in coverage, but residents in Cranford and Westfield have expressed concern about the impact the pole would have on property values.

Residents say it would be an unsightly addition to the neighborhood and, though radiation from the antennas would fall well below federal guidelines, they argue it would create health concerns.

The club is located near county-owned Lenape Park, part of the Rahway River Parkway Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 2002.

In the June 1 letter, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Dorothy P. Guzzo said it is the applicant's "obligation to consider ways to avoid, reduce, or mitigate the effects of the project." "The project will have an adverse effect on the Historic District," Guzzo wrote. "Please note that this is not a close call. Setting is an integral part of the park experience."

The letter echoes objections from County Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski, who said previously she is "not in favor of permitting anything that obstructs the view from a Union County park."

An employee in the local Zoning Office said the Historic Preservation Office cannot deny the application itself, though Guzzo's letter will be considered when the Board of Adjustment issues its ruling.

Federal law generally gives municipalities little leeway to ban construction of cell towers, though zoning boards can guide their placement.

When the hearing continues on Dec. 10, a professional planner and radio frequency expert are expected to testify.

Leslie Murray is a staff writer for the Chronicle. She can be reached at (732) 396-4205 or

Monopole Safety Issues Raise Concern

American Tower 177-foot Monopole Crippled While Being Rehabilitated in Michigan

July 24, 2007 - While working on a reinforcement project to add additional capacity to a Howell, Michigan monopole, a contractor accidentally set the structure's transmission lines on fire, causing the American Tower Corporation monopole to be completely destroyed.

The fire, which started at about 9 a.m., burned itself out by 10 a.m., but left a leaning unstable 177-foot telecommunications tower that served AT&T, Sprint, and carried the internet connections for five Howell schools.

A COW (cell on wheels) is expected be placed in service until a new monopole can be installed.

"AT&T is currently cooperating with local officials and working with the vendor of the structure as they assess the safety of the tower," said AT&T Spokesperson Meghan Roskopf.

Fire officials on site said the project, under the supervision of CommStructures of Pensacola, Florida, required cutting and welding and they believe that the coaxial cable was accidentally set on fire.

Paul Roberts, Vice President of Compliance for American Tower, said there is a very low probability that the tower will topple. He said the steel structure sometimes straightens itself out when it cools following the fire.

"However, we take no chances," Roberts said. "We will keep a 250-foot clearance until we can get a crane out there and it's secured."

The tower is next to the Howell High School bus garage. Buses already parked near the monopole were not in danger, but buses that came in with students had to park farther away than usual to stay out of the way of the fire.

People in a bus garage and those students and teachers in the part of the school complex containing a swimming pool, were evacuated, police said. The school is on Highlander Way, off M-59.No injuries were reported.

Read the entire article here.

Just How Safe are Monopole Cell Towers?

Industry Investigating Monopole Failures

July 28, 2007 - There have been multiple monopole failures this year such as this Sprint/Nextel monopine that fell in California in early May.

Although some of the structure failures can be attributed to winds in excess of jurisdictional design requirements, some monopoles reportedly failed at wind speeds that should not have caused the poles to collapse.

One commonality is that numerous failures were directly above the base plate or above flange locations.

In an industry where the speed of rumors, misstatements and misunderstandings can make the highest ASCE three-second gust blush with envy, industry observers are quick to fault poor engineering, manufacturing and/or metal fatigue as the usual suspects.

Some structural engineers believe that design aspects of monopole engineering should require a closer look, and the TR14.7 TIA-222 committee agrees since they will be reviewing base plate design methodologies and weld details of the base connection on monopoles. They’ll also be investigating fatigue categories on welded joints. Their findings and recommendations will be included in Revision H of the tower standard. However, it could be a year or two until this area of concern is fully explored.

Would you want this in your backyard?

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Westfield Leader 11/01/2007

Letter to the Editor:

Stop the Cell Tower Madness And Arrogance in WF and CF

An application for site-plan approval is being sought for a 130-feet-high cellular tower construction on the Cranford Swim Club property adjacent to Lenape Park.

We, more than 100 residents of Nomahegan Hills Westfield and the section of Cranford north of Springfield Avenue, write to state our opposition to the Cranford Zoning Board granting approval. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and Omnipoint are proposing the construction of this cellular tower.

Construction of the tower in this residential neighborhood would require the zoning board to grant seven major variances, including: A height variance is required for the 130-feet-high tower. The maximum height allowable is 70 feet. Setback variances are required for the tower to be located 14 feet from residential property lines versus 390 feet as required.

The property lines referred to are located in Westfield. A variance is also required due to its proximity to Lenape Park and Cranford residential properties. A variance is required to construct equipment compounds (compressors, electrical, diesel generators, etc.) 14 feet from a front and side residential property line where the setback requirements are 35 feet and 62 feet, respectively.

A variance is required for the 345 square feet Verizon shelter versus 200 square feet allowable. The applicants will seek additional variances from the board as required during construction.

We strenuously object to the proposal for several reasons: The property, though technically in Cranford, is 14 feet from our Westfield residential neighborhood, in the backyard of residents living at 40 and 44 Manitou Circle.

At 130 feet, the tower is an eye sore and will detract from Lenape Park’s visual beauty. The tower will be an attraction for collision with migratory birds. According to the FCC, this is a significant problem. Lenape Park is a bird sanctuary and a bird-watchers haven, This ugly edifice could be a major setback to our Green Acres effort.

The noise from the electrical generators and compressors will be problematic. A study of electromagnetic wave effects on humans, birds and animals does not conclude that these transmissions are safe or unsafe. The same study found a correlation between cellular service use and neuroepithelial tumor development outside the brain. It concludes with a warning: “Unfortunately, our five senses cannot perceive the bulk of the iceberg."

The location of the tower and support buildings could encourage vandalism and represents a health and safety hazard to swim club members. There is a tower located in a Mountainside industrial park about one mile away and our Verizon signal in this
area is very good.

Finally, there would be a significant loss in property values in our area. Our
homes represent our largest asset. Of course, the telephone companies will minimize these possible effects, but the truth is that they don’t know or have data to back up what they claim.

The Cranford Zoning Board has scheduled a hearing for December 10 at the Cranford Municipal Building, 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford at 8:15 p.m. We seek support from Cranford and Westfield residents to stop the construction of this tower in our backyard.

Austin Habib
Stop Cell Tower 2

Something Stinks at the CSC!

According to several different residents in the area, there appeared to be a tremendous amount of activity over at the property of the Cranford Swim Club today.

It all began this morning with the Fox 5 News team investigating the property to do a story on the proposed cell tower. The team was also accompanied by their Fox 5 News Helicopter, which circled the area above the Cranford Swim Club.

In addition, several neighbors of the Cranford Swim Club in Cranford and Westfield were approached by the Fox 5 News team in order to gather information on the proposed cell tower.

At around noon time, residents of County Park Drive noticed Union County Officers arriving at the swim club as well as a HazMat truck and the Cranford Police Department.

They were allegedly investigating a report of hazardous materials being littered among the property of the Cranford Swim Club. Materials including pesticides, gasoline containers containing gasoline, numerous open paint cans thrown in bins, pool sealant, turpentine, etc.

Passersby could clearly see this material through the fence of the swim club. It was carelessly scattered in several different areas of the property. All out in the open, lying on the ground, uncontained.

In addition, there is a large break in the fence maintained by the Cranford Swim Club, allowing anyone to access the property. With all of the dangerous materials out in plain view and with standing rainwater in the pools, this is an accident waiting to happen.

If this is how the Cranford Swim Club maintains their property; with such blatant disregard for the safety and welfare of their surrounding community, just how are we to trust them with a cell tower facility? To my knowledge, the swim club has no security system, no installed camera system, nothing. Just broken fences and seemingly blighted property littered with beer cans, beer bottles, and an array of hazardous materials. How will they monitor activity in the nine months of the year when their club is closed?

I am absolutely disgusted at everything that was brought forward today. I feel completely embarrassed for the Board of Governors as well as the members of the Cranford Swim Club. Embarrassed for the condition of their property and embarrassed for their lack of regard for their surrounding neighbors.

Shame on you CSC! Shame on you!

The N.I.M.B.Y. Factor

By now I am sure that many of you have already heard several people throwing around the term "NIMBY"; Not In My Back Yard.

Most of the people using this term live nowhere near where this proposed cell tower is to be placed. If they did, I assure you that they would be fighting just as hard as the rest of us to assure that this dangerous structure is not allowed in our residential area.

There is hope though. Lawsuits have been won once these towers are allowed to be placed where they clearly do not belong!

Here is an excerpt from an article that I found:

The 'NIMBY' Factor

"Concern for property values is one factor driving the establishment of the ordinances. Setback requirements prevent residents from having cellular towers in their backyards, or even in their line of sight. The ordinances may protect residents' interests, but enacting those ordinances actually conflicts with the demand for cellular service.

The conflict results in a "not in my backyard" situation, says John Sieber, vice president of engineering for CompComm. "They're demanding the services, but they don't want the means to deliver the services," he says. "The issue that gets communities upset is aesthetics. There's a lot of concern about property values."

In 1994, a couple in Bunker Hill Village, Texas, filed suit against the city for allowing construction of a 100-foot cellular tower 22 feet from their backyard fence. Although the tower, built on city property, was approved by city officials, the couple argued that their home had depreciated in value by 10 percent since its arrival. They also claimed a loss of privacy because employees climbed the tower for regular maintenance.

In October 1998, the city settled its portion of the suit with the couple. Earlier this year, a jury ordered the company that owned the tower to pay $1.2 million to the couple. Residents and officials also are concerned about possible negative health effects caused by radiation emission from the towers. The Federal Communications Commission has set standards for emissions, and the TA requires that cellular towers meet those standards. However, some residents say that is not good enough.

In 1997, a group of concerned residents in Boca Raton, Fla., united as Families Against Cell Towers (FACT) to protest the installation of a cellular tower on a school property. They claimed that there is not enough evidence to prove that the emissions are safe for children.

Most studies are conducted on adult males, whose body weights differ vastly from those of third-graders, FACT notes. "It is our belief that the key issue is not proving irrevocably that the cell towers are dangerous, which we believe they are, but instead showing that significant health questions and concerns are being raised across the United States, and we need to protect our children and halt the cell tower's construction until we know more," said FACT spokesperson Gary Brown on a local web site."

Read the entire article here.