Sunday, December 16, 2007

Action Alert! Write to Your Local Newspaper Today!

For those who wish to write letters to the editor of your local newspapers voicing your concerns and opposition to the cell tower application at the Cranford Swim Club, I have compiled a list of the appropriate links.

Please click the appropriate link below to the newspaper that you wish to submit a letter to:

The Suburban News

Cranford Chronicle

The Eagle

The Star Ledger

The Westfield Leader

The Scotch Plains - Fanwood Times

If there are any other newspaper links that you would like to see added to this list, please email me at and I will gladly add all additional links.

Thank you again to everyone for all of the support that we have received! Please continue to spread our online petition - we greatly appreciate each and every signature!

Have a wonderful evening!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Westfield Leader 12/13/2007

CF WF Residents Hire Lawyer to Oppose Cell Tower


CRANFORD — Opponents of a proposed 130-foot-high cell tower have hired an attorney to fight the proposal, which would be situated at the Cranford Swim Club. Testimony on the application, which the Union County freeholder board also opposes, continued Monday night at a special meeting of the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment.

New York SMSA Limited Partnership seeks height and setback variances. During the Cranford zoning board’s meeting in October, the applicant’s attorney, Gregory Meese, said the county did not voice concerns over the proposal to SMSA.

On Monday night, First Deputy County Counsel Norman Albert, also a Cranford resident, stood on the sidelines to wait to question the testimonies heard that evening. About 90 Cranford and Westfield residents opposed to the tower have hired their own attorney, John Schmidt. He said he plans to bring in his own professional planner and radiofrequency consultant to testify before the board.

Civil engineer Anthony Suppa, testifying for the applicant, said that due to an order adopted October 2, cellphone carriers must have an eighthour battery backup at the tower’s equipment shelter. Verizon has a generator; thereby, this order does not apply to them, he said. However, Mr. Suppa said, the other carriers that plan to go on the tower – Sprint, Omnipoint and Cingular – only have about a two- to three-hour backup. They are looking into the eight-hour back up to comply with regulations. Mr. Suppa said the shelter would have no increase in size for the new batteries.

Mr. Meese also introduced Glenn Pierson, a radiofrequency design and engineering consultant. He presented topography maps of each carrier’s coverage area and the increase in coverage the proposed tower would bring. Displaying cell-phone coverage maps, he testified that on average,
each carrier has a gap in coverage from Springfield Avenue to Kenilworth Boulevard, the Chippewa Road neighborhood and from Springfield Avenue to Gallows Hill Road to the south.

Mr. Pierson’s maps of one carrier showed coverage for medium-density buildings, such as brick buildings found at schools, another carrier with coverage for low-density buildings, such as non-stone houses, then another with outdoor or in-vehicle coverage.

“How do we know if there really is a gap?” Board Chairman Robert Hellenbrecht asked. “We’re mixing apples and oranges.” “What is the benefit to our community?” he questioned. Mr. Pierson said the holes in coverage in the area, especially at Cranford High School, Union County College and Nomahegan Park, are “substantial” and could cause a threat in case of an emergency.

Mr. Hellenbrecht said students at the high school are not allowed to use their cell phones. Other residents in the audience interjected that there are emergency practices in place and there are landline phones at the high school.

Later, resident Melanie Graceffo said she found it important for students to have cell-phone service at schools in case of emergencies and asked Mr. Pierson about the potential coverage for all area schools. “This application does not touch schools in the south or east by Orange Avenue,” Mr. Pierson said.

The county and opposition attorneys will have a chance to counter Mr. Pierson’s testimony at the next meeting, scheduled for Monday, January 28, board officials said. Mr. Pierson also listed the other properties the applicant approached for the tower site: Nomahegan Park, Dreyer Farms, Union County College, Fairview Cemetery, Sunrise Assisted Living, Church of Christ Echo Lake, Lenape Park and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. “We’ve looked at every possible place since 2002,” Mr. Pierson said.

He said Union County College and Dreyer Farms declined to have the cell tower located on their properties. Mr. Albert said he would like to see proof of the sites that said “no,” saying he believed the applicant never approached Dreyer Farms. The board also asked for evidence of the reasons behind those sites that declined the applicant’s request.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Update! 12/13/2007

Good Morning Everyone!

I just wanted to leave a brief post to let everyone know that I am currently putting together a briefing of Monday night's Zoning Board meeting for those who may have been unable to attend or who were not able to stay for the entire meeting.

I hope to have this post up by this evening.

If you have any specific points from the meeting that you would like me to add to the briefing, please email me at so that I may add them to the post.

Thank you again to all who attended the meeting. We had a great turnout and I am happy to say that we are slowly making progress!

For those who were not able to attend the meeting or who had to leave early; the next meeting has been scheduled for Monday, January 28, 2008.

Please check back often and please continue to sign and pass along our petition! We greatly appreciate all of the support!

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 8, 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, December 6, 2007

The Westfield Leader 12/06/2007

The following is a brief article excerpt from The Westfield Leader, "County Closes on Purchases of Church Property, Farm", 12/06/2007.

Referencing the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders:

"The board also approved a resolution opposing a cell tower New York SMSA Limited Partnership has proposed for the Cranford Swim Club. The case will resume this Monday at 8:15 p.m. before the Cranford board of adjustment."

Read the entire article here.

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

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Record-Press 11/30/2007

Swim Club Neighbors Angry 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 from both Westfield and Cranford attended a Cranford Township Committee meeting Tuesday night, asking elected officials there to support strict enforcement of zoning laws.

The application, which will be continued before the Cranford 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, on the border with Westfield.

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 the two towns 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, 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 of Cranford 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.

Carl Woodward, Cranford's municipal attorney, 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 Union County 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 NJN Publishing. She can be reached at (732) 396-4205 or