Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Local Source: Cranford News 12/30/2008

Cell Tower Rejected
By Paul Greulich
December 30, 2008

CRANFORD, NJ - A cell tower will not have a home on the Cranford Swimming Club grounds, officials agreed after more than a year reviewing the application.

The township Zoning Board rejected the project in a unanimous vote at its Dec. 8 hearing on the application, which drew dozens of community members eager to voice their concerns during a block reserved for public comments.

Residents applauded the decision.

Officials opposed the plan on the basis that there might not be a gap in coverage and that the tower would have a negative affect on the surrounding parkland and residences. “Cell towers can be located anywhere, but you can’t move a park,” Zoning Board member Jeffrey Pistol said.

The applicant, Verizon, sought height and setback variances to erect the pole at the site in a residential area, near the county-owned Lenape Park and the historic Rahway River Park district. The tower would have been 120-feet-tall.

Resident Steve Cohen said concerned community members have spent money, missed trips and lost time with families while battling this application. “All of our lives have been disrupted by this proposal,” Cohen said.

He suggested the Swim Club broke its promise to be a good neighbor to surrounding residents by allowing Verizon to erect the pole.

Another resident, Tom Graham, said the tower and maintenance equipment also proposed in the plan would have been too close to residential properties.

“I…can’t believe it’s coming to this point where we would consider this,” Graham said, noting the township failed to consider the affect the project would have on neighboring towns, such as Westfield.

The potential impact on the County-owned Lenape Park, as well as nearby Westfield residents, drew Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski and Westfield’s Second Ward Councilwoman Vicki Kimmins to the hearing.

Kimmins sympathized with the Zoning Board, saying she understood the difficulties it faced.

An attorney for the group of local residents who opposed the plan, John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook and Cooper, said Verizon did not provide thorough information on the coverage the tower would provide.

“This applicant failed to show not only a significant gap in coverage but any gap in coverage,” said Schmidt.

Verizon’s attorney, Greg Meese of Price, Meese, Shulman and D’Arminio based in Woodcliff Lake, said the proposal was based not on everyday usage, but on the maximum usage that could be expected in the future.

“You don’t base your building codes on withstanding the average wind, you base them on a strong wind,” Meese said.

Cranford may not have seen the last of this proposal.

Once the Zoning Board passes a formal resolution denying the application, the applicant has 45 days to appeal the decision in court, which Schmidt said is the likely course of action for Verizon. “With the amount of litigation that has gone on in the past involving cell towers, I am confident this will be appealed by the carriers,” he said.

Meese and representatives from the Cranford Swim Club could not be reached for comment.

Norman Albert had represented Union County’s interest with regard to Lenape Park.

Article Courtesy of LocalSource.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Westfield Leader 12/18/2008

Residents Made Difference In Denial of Cell Tower
By Christina M. Hinke

CRANFORD — The earnest voice of residents weighed on the township zoning board of adjustment’s unanimous, Monday, December 8, decision to reject a 120 foot cell tower monopole proposed in a residential neighborhood at the Cranford Swim Club.

The 10-hearing heated debate between the applicant, SMSA Limited Partnership, consisting of Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile, and a team of Westfield and Cranford residents represented by their attorney John Schmidt, had heard testimony by the applicant’s radiofrequency expert Glenn Pierson citing a gap in coverage.

Board member Christopher Drew told The Westfield Leader that after hearing testimony by residents at the November meeting that cited their own test of cell phone service in the “gap” that showed they could make calls inside buildings and outside without a problem that, “I think you have to trust the people on the ground. Who better to judge than the folks who are affected by it?” “Based on testimony I felt it was the right thing to do,” he said. The application sought seven variances, including use, height and setback. “It was way too much all the way around. A bad place, a bad project and, quite frankly, I’m very happy for the residents.”

Jo Ann Neylan told The Leader she and Vicki Kimmins attended the meetings to support the Westfield residents as second ward representatives of the Westfield Town Council. “We’re happy that the residents were satisfied [by the board’s decision to deny the application]. We just hope that the technology in the future is as such that they don’t have to have so many cell towers around,” Ms. Neylan said. Ms. Kimmins said the zoning board “really listened to the residents. How it affected them personally — it really counted... All those voices together really made a difference,” she said.

“I think the decision was a correct one. Too close to a residential area and too close to a park.” Robert Hellenbrecht, chairman of the Cranford board, said, “My belief was that there was not a significant gap in service and weighed against the detriment, we as a board felt compelled to deny it.”

Mr. Schmidt, in his closing remarks, said, “The evidence in this case says the application should be denied.” He also said when his radiofrequency expert requested to review the data that was relied upon for Mr. Pierson’s evidence of a gap of coverage that “there was none.” The applicant’s attorney, Gregory Meese, said drive test data showing his applicant having a significant gap in coverage along Kenilworth Boulevard and Springfield Avenue is updated regularly and is why the old data was erased and he said the data didn’t change.

Norman Albert, a representative for the County of Union and a Cranford resident, asked the board to consider its “common sense” when weighing the detriment a cell tower would have on property values, siding that a tower would decrease the value of a home.

John Schuvart, a Westfield resident who, along with his wife Jenny and son Michael, was among a group of some 90 people who hired Mr. Schmidt, said the tower “would have cost the neighborhood property value loss… This is almost everybody’s single investment in their lives.” “If you want to be in the cell phone business, you got to pay the price. But don’t lean on us,” Mr. Schuvart said. He told The Leader that residents spent about $40,000 to $50,000 to battle the case. “It’s so sad that things are handled this way, that it puts so much stress on people, the residents. We have lost some of our lives, our health. Every night my last thoughts were ‘how the heck are we going to fight this cell tower?’ Isn’t that a shame?” said Mr. Shuvart, who has owned his home for over 40 years. “We pay our taxes every quarter, we’ve been good citizens, we raised our children here. To be confronted with this in this time in your life is so sad. Our neighbors are mostly older. It’s tough. It’s disrupting our lives. It’s going to take us a while to get over it. My wife says she doesn’t think she’ll ever get over it. There is so much they could have done to make it easier.”

Frank Krause, a Cranford resident, said the decision to deny the application “certainly was saving the value of the land” for the residential lots in Westfield and Cranford surrounding the proposed site, the swim club property and the Union County Green Acres parkland.

Cranford resident Marjorie Meise told the board “before I left today my daughter, a college student, said to me ‘you go mom, you bring forth your voice…, but it’s not going to change a thing.’” “I said…‘People’s voices count…’” In a final statement by Mr. Drew at last Monday’s hearing, he said to Ms. Meise, “Please tell her and all of her friends that they can always make a difference and that her mom absolutely made a difference today.”

“We’ve (the board) never had the participation and we’ve never had the strong opinion of so many residents. I take that to heart and I take that serious,” board member Ronald Marotta said.

“I felt this was an unfair application for the residents to have this tower behind their homes. No one else in the state and the country has experienced this…these people have been asked an unusual burden,” board member Carolyn Youngs said. “I think it’s really unrealistic to have these cell towers within a couple miles of each other.”

Mr. Meese did not return phone calls inquiring about his client’s decision to appeal the board’s decision.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 12/10/2008

Board Rejects 14-Month Long Cranford Swimming Club Cell Tower Application
By Leslie Murray
December 10, 2008

CRANFORD - After 14 months of testimony given over the course of 10 meetings, the application to build a 120-foot monopole cell tower at the Cranford Swimming Club (CSC) was unanimously rejected by the Zoning Board of Adjustment during the Monday, Dec. 8 meeting.

In voting on the application, which drew serious objections from Cranford and Westfield residents as well as from Union County representatives, board members agreed that the application, a cooperative effort by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile, failed to prove a significant gap in coverage. What's more board members also said that the negative impact on the residents who live in the area surrounding CSC would be significant and outweighed any benefit from the tower. The decision was met with a boisterous round of applause from the audience.

Drawing about 60 members of the public, the end of the final meeting of the long and contentious application was marked by public comments and the closing statements made by attorney for the applicant Gregory Meese and the attorneys representing the objectors - John Schmidt who represented a group of residents and Norman Albert who represented Union County.

As they spoke, residents from the area surrounding the swim club asked the board to reject the application, saying that the tower would be utterly detrimental to their quality of life.

Saying that residents were being unfairly saddled with the tower because of a decision by the swim club, Ellen Miller said she could only guess that the club would use the lease payments from the tower to pay for upgrades in the facility.

"I am a former member of the Cranford Swimming Club and I have paid my dues. Now I feel I'm being asked to pay dues again," Miller said.

Offering a visual aid of where the tower would be from one property line, resident Tom Graham took out a tape measure and stood 14 feet from the podium, asking the board to protect the residents.

Call the evidence presented by the applicant unimpressive, Norman Schwartz said that adding a cell tower in the neighborhood would urbanize the suburban neighborhood no matter how the cellular providers suggested camouflaging it.

"I don't care if it has branches on it. I don't care if it has nests on it. 'Welcome to New York City,'" Schwartz said. "I'm pleading with you: just vote no."

Offering support, Linden resident Joseph Sarica said that as the mail carrier for the area he understood why residents chose the quiet, calm neighborhood.

"They're good people. They're hardworking people. They don't deserve this," he said.

The concern of residents also drew support from Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski and Westfield Councilwoman Vicky Kimmins, both of whom encouraged the board to reject the application.

The meeting became more heated as the attorneys offered their closing statements, taking to task the witnesses and the testimony that had been offered throughout the application.

Offering his statements first, Albert said that the applicant had failed to make their case. He specifically took aim at the testimony regarding attempts to find alternate sites for the cell tower, calling the efforts "wholly inadequate."

"The detrimental impact on the residential area and a county park land ... is really incontrovertible," Albert said.

In his closing statement, Schmidt criticized the entire application saying that not only had the applicant failed to prove a gap in coverage but that the experts offered testimony that was based on data that did not exist.

"I submit that that this applicant has failed to show not only a significant gap in coverage but any gap in coverage," Schmidt said.

Furthering his statements, he said that by allowing a cell tower in a residential area, the board would be setting a dangerous precedent.

"You're going to open the door with this application and you are not going to be able to close it," Schmidt said.

Firing back, Meese said that in making the application the cellular carriers had proposed a tower in "the least obtrusive site" in an area that needed cellular coverage.

"They have an (FCC) license. They have the need for the site. They have investigated all other possible sites," Meese said. "Clearly the benefits outweigh the determents."

However the board members disagreed, saying that the applicant had failed to prove that there was a gap in coverage that would be filled by the proposed cell tower.

Making a motion to reject the application, board member Christopher Drew said the applicant had failed to make their case.

"Quite frankly, I don't think a significant gap in coverage has been proven," Drew said, drawing a round of applause.

Seconding the motion, Robert Bovasso said that in addition to not making the case that residential property values would remain unaffected, the application had not appropriately proved that the coverage was needed. "I don't believe that a gap in coverage had been demonstrated. It's too speculative," he said.

Offering his comment, board chairman Robert Hellenbrecht said that he "(did not) believe this tower is going to solve any big problems."

"I believe that the determents substantially outweigh the benefits," Hellenbrecht said.

Leslie Murray is a staff writer for The Chronicle. She can be reached at (908)464-5214 or lmurray@njnpublishing.com.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Zoning Board Voices Resounding “No” to Cell Tower Application

On Monday, December 8, 2008 the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to deny, in full, the application set forth by Verizon Wireless (et al) to construct a 120' cell tower on the property of the Cranford Swim Club, 201 County Park Drive, Cranford.

Following several hours of public comment consisting of resident after resident voicing opposition to this cell tower application, the attorney(s) for the county, the residents and the applicant presented their final statements to the board.

Deliberations by the Zoning Board began at approximately 11:15pm and included comments, discussion and questions from the board as well as instruction from the Zoning Board attorney, David P. Weeks.

Mr. Weeks reviewed several points of the application, including, but not limited to:

1. The tower is not a Permitted Use in an R-1 Zone (Single Family Residential Zone);
2. The applicant is seeking to place a 120’ tower where the height limit is 30’ in a Residential (R-1) Zone. This is a staggering 90’ height variance request;
3. In total, the application includes eight bulk variances;
4. The applicant is requesting a Use Variance, which would allow a cell tower (Commercial Use) in a Residential Zone;
5. The applicant is seeking a variance to allow two Principal Uses on one singular property;
6. Citing Court Rulings; a cell tower is not an inherently beneficial use (i.e. a church, school, etc.); therefore it is treated as a Commercial Use.

The board began deliberations with comments from several members. There was a unanimous agreement by the board that the applicant failed to prove that a significant gap in coverage exists in the proposed area. Additional comments by the board included:

1. There would be a negative impact on the surrounding parkland by introducing such an intrusive structure to the existing landscape;
2. The cell tower would result in a diminution of home values in the surrounding are by 10%-15%;
3. Approval of this application would set a dangerous precedent for all Residential Zones in the Township of Cranford and would have a detrimental impact on the Zoning Map of the Township of Cranford;
4. The application is unrealistic and the applicant did not provide sufficient evidence to justify constructing of a cell tower so close to residential homes;
5. The negative criteria far outweighs the positive and the granting of this application would cause substantial detriment to the public good;
6. Both the county and the state are strongly opposed to this application;
7. This structure would introduce an intrusive use into a Residential (R-1) Zone;
8. The proposed tower would not fill any alleged “gap” of coverage in the area due to overwhelming evidence that no such “gap” exists.

The Zoning Board Chair, Robert Hellenbrecht, went on to say that it is the board’s job to protect the general welfare of the residents and the community, conserve the value of the land in our township as well as to prohibit Principal Uses in zones which they are strictly prohibited by the land use laws of our township.

Following an hour long deliberation, the Zoning Board Members; Robert Hellenbrecht, Carolyn Youngs, Ronald Marotta, Christopher Drew, Robert Bovasso, Jeffrey Pistol and Barbara Ginsberg voted unanimously to deny this application in full.

CSC Cell Tower Unanimously DENIED!

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment voted unanimously this evening to DENY, in full, the application set forth by Verizon Wireless (et al) to construct a 120' cell tower on the property of the Cranford Swim Club, 201 County Park Drive, Cranford.

For more information on the reasons for denial, please be sure to check back as further updates will be posted tomorrow!

A huge thank you again to each and every resident who spoke up in opposition to this tower. Your voices were finally heard!

CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 12/08/2008

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, December 8, 2008.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, December 8, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

*THIS WILL BE THE FINAL MEETING!*

At this meeting, public comment in opposition to the application will continue, the attorneys will make their final closing statements and the board will begin to deliberate on the application with a decision possible.

*A DECISION BY THE BOARD MAY BE MADE AT THIS MEETING!*

As this application is now passing the year-long mark, we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every resident who stood strong with their ongoing support, dedication and continued involvement in this cause.

As the application comes to an end, we must now continue to make it clear that this cell tower application must be denied!

I urge all residents who did not have a chance to make their statement during public comment at the last meeting to take the opportunity at this next meeting. It is crucial that each and every resident have a chance to be heard!

Thank you again to all! You're overwhelming support has been amazing!

See everyone at the meeting!

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!

This Zoning Board meeting will also be televised live on Cranford's TV-35. Please tune in if you cannot make it to the meeting!

Cranford Chronicle 12/07/2008

Final Cell Tower Meeting in Cranford
Cranford Chronicle
December 07, 2008

CRANFORD - On Monday, Dec. 8, at 8:15 p.m. there will be the final cell tower meeting by the Cranford Zoning Board, at the Cranford Municipal Building, located at 8 Springfield Ave., Cranford.

The meeting is regarding the proposal to erect a 120-foot cell tower, a large building and related structures at the Cranford Swim Club, 201 County Park Drive which is on the Cranford/Westfield border.

This area is zoned strictly residential and is also adjacent to Lenape Park, a County Park used by residents of many nearby towns.

This is the last meeting on this proposal and comments from the community will be listened to by the Zoning Board and a definitive decision will be made.

All interested persons are urged to attend and participate before this decision is final. Call the Cranford Zoning Department at (908) 709-7216 for confirmation or with questions.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Suburban News 12/03/2008

Cell Tower Final Meeting

Cranford – On December 8 at 8:15 p.m. there will be the final cell tower meeting by the Cranford Zoning Board, at the Cranford Municipal Building, 8 Springfield Ave., Cranford, regarding the proposal to erect a 120-foot cell tower, a large building and related structures at the Cranford Swim Club, 201 County Park Drive which is on the Cranford/Westfield border.

Be advised this area is zoned strictly residential as is also adjacent to Lenape Park, a County Park used by residents of many nearby towns.

This is the last meeting on this proposal and comments from the community will be listened to by the Zoning Board and a definitive decision will be made.

All interested persons are urged to attend and participate before this decision is final.

Call the Cranford Zoning Department at 908-709-7216 for confirmation or questions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wireless Estimator 12/02/2008

Residents, Cities, County and State Synchronized Against Defeating Swim Club Monopole Application


CRANFORD, NJ - After a year of nine meetings on a contentious application to construct a cellular tower at the Cranford Swim Club, the public will still have to wait for a decision on a 120-foot monopole to be erected at the rear of the swim club property on the border of Cranford and Westfield.

According to attorney Greg Meese and other experts for the cellular providers, the tower is necessary to fill a gap in coverage and to meet service demands.

Residents in both communities have objected, saying they do not experience a lack of cellular coverage and that the tower will negatively impact their property values. The application has also drawn objections from Union County and the state.

Article Courtesy of WirelessEstimator.com

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 11/30/2008

After Year, Application for CSC Cell Tower Continues
By LESLIE MURRAY

CRANFORD - In the ninth meeting on a contentious application to build a cellular tower at the Cranford Swimming Club (CSC) the public had their first opportunity to comment on the application, though a decision on the application will likely have to wait until December.

The application calls for a 120-foot monopole tower and a cluster of communication equipment to be constructed at the rear of the swim club property on the border of Cranford and Westfield by a cooperative of cellular providers including, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile.

According to attorney Greg Meese and other experts for the cellular providers, the tower is necessary to fill a gap in coverage and to meet service demands.

However, residents in both Cranford and Westfield have objected, saying they do not experience a lack of cellular coverage and that the tower will negatively impact their property values. A group of objectors have hired attorney John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper to represent their concerns.

The application has also drawn objections from Union County and the state, with county attorney Norman Albert saying the tower would negatively impact the neighboring Lenape Park. The claim has received backing from the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office who asserted that the Rahway River Parkway Historic District, which was identified by the National Register of Historic Places in Sept. 2002, would be damaged if the tower was erected.

During the Monday, Nov. 24 meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, before a crowd of approximately 50 people, Schmidt presented four residents who testified that they conducted cell phone tests.

Audrey Muratore, Maria Polyvioe, Elaine Puma, and Marjorie Meise all recorded the results from a series of calls which they made from their AT&T and Verizon Wireless cell phones, within the area that the application has indicated as having limited coverage.

With the exception of Meise who testified that one call was dropped as she headed toward Broad Street in Westfield from Gallows Hill Road, all of the women said they had no issues with coverage during their test calls.

"This is what I use 90 percent of the time," Muratore said of her cell phone. "I've never had a problem."

Meese objected, saying, "I think the case law is clear that this type of anecdotal evidence is not relevant."

As the testimony continued, the ringing of a cell phone distracted from the meeting briefly.

"Guess it works here," one resident remarked, drawing a laugh from the audience.

Addressing one of the main issues of the application, board chairman Robert Hellenbrecht asked if there was any way for the board to know if the test calls were made on the 800 megahertz service, which the cellular carriers have said is reliable in the area, or the 1,900 megahertz service that the application is seeking to expand.

Per testimony given earlier in the application, witnesses for the cellular providers have said that as service demands increase a greater number of calls are carried on the less reliable 1,900 megahertz service.

Schmidt and witnesses for area residents have said that the carriers have effectively admitted that they need to boost capacity not coverage. In seeking this tower witness for the objectors have said the cell providers are overlapping coverage instead of expanding it.

On Monday, Schmidt said both he and the witnesses could not say what frequency was used for the calls.

Calling his only witness for the application, Albert introduced testimony by planner Victor Vinegra of Harbor Consultants.

Speaking about the work he has performed for Union County related to Lenape Park, Vinegra stated that the trail system in the park is an integral part of the county's greenway and if erected the tower would be "a visual blight somewhat on the park."

"Looking to buffer this would be very difficult because of the height of the tower," Vinegra said. What's more, Vinegra criticized statements previously made by the applicant's planner citing that a willing landlord for the tower and the property's location near a park should be considered as part of the planning criteria for the application.

"That's a business reason, not a planning reason," he testified.

Cross examining Vinegra, Meese said that Verizon Wireless was in the process of appealing the decision by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office. Meese also said that that for his testimony Vinegra had "ransacked the case law for the cases that made a juicy bill board."

Answering back, Vinegra said that like the planner for the applicant he testified to relevant cases related to cell tower applications.

In closing, Meese recalled radio frequency engineer Glenn Pierson's testimony. Rebuffing the residents who testified about their investigative calls, Pierson said that all but three of the 16 test calls were made within the existing area of coverage.

Questioning Pierson again, board vice-chair Jeffery Pistol asked about a seeming contradiction between the advertised coverage by cellular providers and the coverage maps presented as evidence.

"I'm confused as to how they can represent one thing on the advertisement and another thing here," Pistol said.

Pierson responded that he could not testify about the advertisements because he had not conducted the tests used to produce the material.

During the public comments on the application no residents spoke in favor of the application.

Speaking out against the application Austin Habiv said that the applicant had offered "distorted information" thorough out the case.

"We can't afford to have this in our community," Habiv continued.

Furthering the criticism, Cranford resident Frank Krause called the application "totally flawed, inaccurate, and incomplete."

Roxanne Graham said that she and her husband bought their home because of the serene neighborhood.

"Unfortunately our picturesque view is going to be gone once this thing goes up in our backyard," she asserted.

Saying that residents such as herself in the community are good neighbors who do not complain about the noise from the swim club, Mary Valenzano pointed out that members of the Cranford Swimming Club could quit the club if the sight of the cell tower bothered them, but residents of the area did not have that luxury.

"Please say no. It's the right thing to do," she urged the board.

Paul Fuller said that like most others he has a Blackberry that works well from within his house.

He continued on to say that the swim club is being a bad neighbor and by allowing the tower, it will also be facilitating the mistreatment of residents.

"It's kind of like they want their cake but I have to pay for it and then watch them eat it," Fuller said.

At the Dec. 8 meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, public comment will continue, the attorneys will make their closing statements and the board will deliberate on the application with a decision possible.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Westfield Leader 11/27/2008

Westfield, Cranford Residents Voice Resounding ‘No’ to Cell Tower
By CHRISTINA M. HINKE

CRANFORD — Residents of Westfield and Cranford on Monday had their first chance to make comments to the Cranford planning board regarding the application for a 120-foot cell tower proposed for placement at the Cranford Swimming Club on County Park Drive, which borders on Westfield. In this yearlong battle, Westfield and Cranford homeowners who live adjacent to or near the swim club have opposed the application to erect a cell phone tower.

The applicant, SMSA Limited Partnership, composed of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, seeks use, height and setback variances to place the monopole and an equipment shelter in a residential zone at the Cranford Swimming Club.

Austin Habib of Manitou Circle in Westfield said to the board, “you have the right to disapprove” the application based on the interests of the community, adding that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cannot force the municipality to approve it. He voiced concerns of the possible health risks of frequencies the tower would emit, noting how government in the past had said certain materials, such as mercury, were harmless, only to learn later that they were harmful to humans. He also said research he found on the Internet stated that monopoles can reduce a home’s value by up to 50 percent.

Mark O’Neil of 56 Manitou Circle said, “for me, it began with the presumption that it is not allowed.” He said there is “sufficient reason” to not approve the application. He called the board’s imminent decision a “balancing test” of legality and the community perspective. He said a realtor said to him recently that a couple heard about the cell tower case and dropped out of looking at a home in the area. “It’s perception. It affects the value of everyone’s house.” Mr. O’Neil said, “It’s not a constitutional issue,” adding, “we have land lines for phones, cable lines for phones. Certainly cell phone service doesn’t rise to the level of need of a water line or electrical line.” “Look at how many people are against this application. The majority should weigh on your minds,” he said. He called the tower an “eyesore.” Mr. O’Neil said if the cell tower was approved, the swim club would be changing its use to a commercial property by renting its space and profiting off of the lease. “At the end of the day, it is fundamentally unfair,” he said.

Paul Fuller of Cranford reiterated Mr. O’Neil’s statement, saying this application is not a variance but a rezoning issue. “We are looking to you guys to help us stop this,” he said. “It’s a bottom line majority issue...You haven’t shown it’s beneficial to the neighborhood.”

Myron Kesselhaut of 44 Manitou Circle lives the closest to the proposed location of the tower and said he bought his home 40 years ago because he had a “pristine property.” He said if the tower goes up it would be 14 feet from his yard where his grandchildren play and would impinge on his view. “I want my grandchildren to play with no problems,” he said. “I want to enjoy my final days there.”

Charles Rauch of 20 Manitou Circle cited visual and noise pollution and lowered property values as the impact to the neighborhood surrounding the tower site. The rapid improvements in technology and how technological devices have been made smaller for the same or more use are proven, he said, adding that the same could happen to how cell phone service is provided.

Frank Krause of Cranford said one variance was “overlooked,” citing the tower site is 15 feet from county parklands, where 50 feet is required.

Andrea Bergman of 40 Nomahegan Court in Cranford said the board should vote no, “if you on the board truly represent the residents of Cranford and not the big money interest.”

“Please say no. It’s the right thing to do,” said Mary Valanzano of
Nomahegan Court.

Prior to resident comments, Michael Shuvart, a resident of Manatoa Circle in Westfield, was recalled to the stand. He testified about advertisements he saw for the three cell phone carriers and how each of their websites has a user option to type in an address to see the result of coverage in the area. He said all three carriers showed sufficient coverage in the proposed cell site location.

The applicant’s attorney, Gregory Meese, stated that footnotes on the ads said maps produced may include no service areas, limited or no coverage areas and does not guarantee service, coverage and availability.

John Schmidt, the attorney representing the residents opposed to the application, said the maps stated that they showed the strongest coverage numbers resulting in good or better coverage.

Mr. Schmidt then called four residents to testify on behalf on their own call test, of which they made a handful of calls from various places in the area in question to research the reliability of the cell phone service. Mr. Meese objected to each person’s testimony saying it is not relevant and does not stand up in court.

All but one phone call was noted as going through and not being dropped. Later, Glenn Pierson, a radio frequency expert for the applicant, was called to redirect comments on this data. He said of 16 of the calls he looked at, all but three were in the existing coverage area on the Verizon map that showed good coverage.

Norman Albert, an attorney representing the County of Union, called Victor Vinagra of Harbor Consultants as a planning expert to testify on the effect the tower has on the county parkland at Lenape Park. Mr. Vinagra presented a PowerPoint display of photographs he took of the park and the views from the tower site into the yards of the neighboring homes, and a trail system map.

He said the view from the homes would see the base of the tower and 10 feet above it. The trail connects Echo Lake Park with Nomahegan Park and extends behind the swim club. It is part of the Union County Greenway, which is part of the New Jersey Greenway. Mr. Vinagra said the county is commissioning to expand the greenway. The tower affects the long range planning the county has for its park system, he said. The visual effects the tower would have from the greenway would have a “negative impact on the county park system,” he said.

This sentiment was shared by the Rahway River Parkway Historic District in a letter, he said. He said the tree buffer was not good year-round and the height of the tower extends above the tree line, which he said is about 70 to 80 feet. He said the applicant has failed to make a case to approve the tower placement and it does no meet the zone plan. “Not being able to negotiate a deal with other property owners is not a reason to grant the application,” Mr. Vinagra told the board. He said just because Lenape Park cannot be developed for residential use does not mean it cannot be developed for park activities. He said the fact that the tower’s proposed site abuts 270 acres of open space “pushes the impact” a monopole would have on the area and “does not negate the impact.”

The next board meeting on the cell tower will be held Monday, December 8, at 8:15 p.m.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 11/23/2008

Cranford Cell Tower Meeting November 24, Decision Pending
by The Chronicle

CRANFORD - On November 24, at 8:15 p.m. there will be a meeting of the Cranford Zoning Board at the Cranford municipal building, 8 Springfield Ave., Cranford, to determine whether the Zoning Board will allow the construction of a 120-foot cell phone tower and related buildings at the Cranford Swim Club, 201 County Park Drive, Cranford.

This area is zoned strictly residential and is adjacent to Lenape Park, a county park, used by residents of many towns.

Comments from the audience regarding this proposal will be listened to by the Zoning Board and a final decision may be made.

All interested persons are urged to attend this very important meeting. Call (908) 709-7216 for additional information.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 11/24/2008

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, November 24, 2008.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, November 24, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

At this meeting, Mr. Schmidt (attorney for the residents) will make his closing argument of opposition to this cell tower proposal. Norm Albert (attorney representing Union County) is expected to call one witness to testify as well.

Should the attorneys both complete their witness testimony, the Zoning Board may begin to hear public comment. This will be the most vital portion and we urge everyone to stand up before the Zoning Board and have their voices heard!

This has been a long battle and we must now make it clear that this cell tower application must be denied!

See everyone at the meeting!

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!

This Zoning Board meeting will also be televised live on Cranford's TV-35. Please tune in if you cannot make it to the meeting!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 10/10/2008

Cell Tower Application Could Continue Into 2009
by Leslie Murray
Friday October 10, 2008

CRANFORD - Nearly a year after the application began, the controversial effort to build a cellular tower at the Cranford Swimming Club (CSC) continued this week.

The Oct. 6 meeting marked the eighth time the application, by a cooperative of cellular providers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile, has been heard by the Board of Adjustment. It calls for a 120-foot monopole tower on the rear of the swim club property at the border of Cranford and Westfield.

Representing the applicant, attorney Greg Meese and other experts have maintained the carriers have a gap in coverage and need the tower to meet service demands.

Residents in both Cranford and Westfield have objected, saying the tower will negatively impact their property values and could be a health risk. A group of the objectors have hired attorney John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper to represent their concerns.

The application has also drawn objections from Union County and the state, with county attorney Norman Albert saying the tower would negatively impact the neighboring Lenape Park and the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office asserting, in a letter that the Rahway River Parkway Historic District, which was identified by the National Register of Historic Places in Sept. 2002, would be damaged if the tower was erected.

During the meeting Monday, Meese cross-examined radio frequency engineer Ronald Graiff who testified in August that an overlap in cell tower locations was a bad practice.

This week, real estate appraiser Thomas Kacheiriess testified that witness John Gillooly drew an improper parallel between the County Park Drive location and a cell tower on Brown Avenue in Springfield last June.

Kacheiriess said that Gillooly's testimony "didn't show the difference in the locations" citing that in addition to having a cell tower the Brown Avenue site was also near a commercial office park, a marked difference from the Cranford site.

"The location they found in Springfield was already impaired by an industrial area that was there long before there was a tower," Kacheiriess testified.

When he was cross examined by Meese, Kacheiriess affirmed his comments that he could not find a precise match to the Cranford location, including the cases that Meese sited in Upper Saddle River and Ramapo.

Some of the strongest objections of the evening came when Schmidt introduced Michael Shuvart as a lay witness. Board attorney David Weeks said that because Shuvart testified only to photos that were taken in his presence and zoning maps that he requested, it was admissible.

Saying that Shuvart was not an engineer and could not guarantee that items were to scale, Meese questioned him as a witness in general.

Schmidt said he would have a few more lay witnesses when the application is continued to November 24, 2008.

The application, slated to continue in November, could extended into 2009 with several witness still left to testify on behalf of the objecting residents.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Westfield Leader 10/09/2008

Hearings for Cell Tower Near To an End in Cranford
By CHRISTINA M. HINKE

CRANFORD — The 120-foot cell tower application drawing strong opposition from Westfield and Cranford residents is nearing its end. Attorney John Schmidt, representing the Westfield and Cranford residents opposed to the cell tower, questioned his last witness at Monday night’s Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing for the application of SMSA Limited Partnership, composed of Verizon, AT&T and TMobile, for a cell phone monopole and equipment shelter at the location of the Cranford Swim Club on County Park Drive.

Mr. Schmidt’s radio frequency engineer expert Ronald Graiff was recalled to the stand for Gregory Meese, the applicant’s attorney, to cross-examine Mr. Graiff. Mr. Meese asked questions about Mr. Graiff’s familiarity with the testimony given by Mr. Meese’s radio frequency expert, Glenn Pierson. Mr. Meese questioned him about the drive test data, which measures wireless signal performance that Mr. Pierson supplied to Mr. Schmidt at an earlier meeting. “I have seen no drive tests in testimony,” Mr. Graiff responded. “I saw calculated coverage.”

Mr. Graiff said that “the stack of paper” given in response to Mr. Schmidt’s request for the data had no meaning because “the algorithm used to analyze was not presented.” “Mr. Pierson danced around at how they were done,” he said. Mr. Meese responded saying, “You made no effort to make a request of this data in another form?” “When someone asks for drive test data it is provided in a map with overlays,” Mr. Graiff said, noting in his experience in cell phone tower cases this form of the information is provided.

“I thought, quite frankly, it was a smart expletive way to get Mr. Schmidt the data,” he said. Then Mr. Meese and Mr. Graiff got into a word definition argument as Mr. Meese questioned what Mr. Graiff thought the definitions were for seamless, “without seams,” he replied; ubiquitous,” the same, he replied; “reliable,” “there is no hard measure of reliability,” he responded. Mr. Meese presented new data to the board that showed the capacity of calls made during legal holidays. “He doesn’t list the holidays he (Mr. Graiff) testified to [at the last meeting],” objected Mr. Schmidt, noting Mother’s Day as an example.

Then Mr. Meese brought up the topic of cell site placement. Mr. Graiff said cell carriers “typically place it (the tower) in the search ring.” “It is not in the search ring,” he said regarding the proposed site placement of the monopole.

A search ring is a hole identified through analysis of drive test data that shows the area to place the tower to achieve the service results desired. Mr. Graiff also said a carrier could place antennae on two 50- or 60-foot buildings to “get the coverage they needed.” Though he said it is not ideal. He said there were building sites to the south and the east that were suitable, but could not recall the exact locations.

Mr. Meese said Mr. Pierson testified to the need to go further north to achieve the desired coverage. Mr. Graiff also said, “There is no fact that states the antennae has to be above the tree line to propagate.” At the last meeting Mr. Graiff testified that there is no evidence stating “that calls will fail when you get outside of that sea of green,” referring to the area that has cell phone coverage. He also said that because of “confusing testimony” that he could not say there was a gap in coverage.

After Mr. Meese’s hour-and-15-minute cross examination, board member alternate Ronald Marotta said to Mr. Meese about not receiving a test data map, “This has been going on a long time. Something like that (drive test map) would have helped move this forward.”

Cranford resident Leonard Waldman informed Mr. Graiff that the test drive data received is not the original data because in an earlier meeting Mr. Pierson said the data was purged from the system due to space issues on the hard drive, and so he used data available at the time of the request.

Mr. Schmidt also called Thomas Kachelreiss, his real estate appraiser expert to the stand. He said he reviewed the Springfield site referred to by the applicants’ appraiser. He called the area the cell tower is located in an “industrial park.” He said since this area has had industrial use for some time that the home values there are already diminished due to that zone and so an appraiser cannot use it in a paired sales analysis.

Mr. Meese’s real estate appraiser used this analysis for testimony. He also said he could not find a cell tower “solely in a residential area.” He said the applicant only mentioned areas that are school zones. Mr. Meese then said that some of these school locations surround residential areas.

Mr. Meese asked about the tower in Mendham, which he said “is a three acre residential zone in a residential property.” “There haven’t been any sales in 2,000 feet of that property,” Mr. Kachelreiss responded as to why he did not do an analysis there.

Board member Christopher Drew told the appraiser that Union County College’s public safety director sent a letter to the board stating its reasons for not wanting a tower on its grounds. The college was approached by the applicant before the swim club. Mr. Drew asked the appraiser why he thinks the college would not want it on its property.

“I would think they would be opposed because of their Astronomy department,” he answered, saying the tower would cause interference. Then board chairman Robert Hellenbrecht asked Mr. Kachelreiss to give the board “something with more meat” and not opinion.

Mr. Kachelreiss said the homes in Springfield in the area of the tower are larger in size than those in the Westfield/ Cranford area in question, but the values of the homes in Westfield and Cranford are higher. He also said the quality and maintenance were not equal, inferring that Westfield and Cranford were of higher caliber.

Cranford resident Marjorie Meise asked Mr. Kachelreiss if he thought the homes in Westfield and Cranford, in the vicinity of the tower, would decrease in value and he said “yes.” She also said the homes in question do not have acres of land like the area in Mendham.

Then Mr. Schmidt called his final witness, Michael Shuvart, a resident of Manatoa Circle in Westfield. He showed the board pictures and a map of the area where the tower would be placed and of the area in Springfield. It showed a line from the tower to where the setback from property should be at 360 feet. The proposed setback of the tower is 14 feet.

The next meeting is set for Monday, November 24, when Mr. Meese will cross examine Mr. Shuvart, and if time allows residents can come before the board with comments.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Local Source: Cranford News 10/01/2008

Tower Plan a Year-Old
By Paul Greulich
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CRANFORD, NJ - The end is nowhere in sight for the controversial Zoning Board hearings on a proposal to erect a 120-foot tall cell tower on the Cranford Swim Club grounds, an application reaching the one year anniversary of its introduction this month.

The applicant, Verizon, is seeking height and setback variances needed to erect the pole in a residential area, near the county-owned Lenape Park and the Rahway River Park historic district.

Zoning Board Chair Robert Hellenbrect said he expects more hearings on the project, anticipated to extend well into 2009. He said he never expected the application process to last so long, but he is not surprised.

“After the first meeting, when so many people turned out, I knew it was going to be a long one,” Hellenbrect said.

The first hearing on the application was Oct. 15, 2007. Area residents’ concerns focused on aesthetics, the location of the pole in relation to their property lines and the adjoining park, and the health hazards associated with living near the tower, a factor that remains a topic of concern despite not yet having been scientifically substantiated.

The residents hired attorney John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick & Estabrook in Westfield to represent them in the matter.

Hellenbrect pointed out the application involves a lot of technical details, which have generated a lot of questions.

"The applicant has finished his portion of testimony. Presently the lawyer, who represents a good number of people, is presenting his witnesses," Hellenbrect said.

County officials are expected to take a turn, offering their view of the proposed tower on Oct. 6, depending on scheduling.

County Counsel and Cranford Democratic Chair Norman Albert, will represent Union County's view on the issue.

“I’m disappointed its gone on this long, but I’m not surprised,” Albert said. “I think the appropriate thing to do would be to withdraw this application as inappropriate for the neighborhood and for Cranford and the county.”

"The county attorney will present a witness and that may well wrap up the portion of the hearings associated with testimony," Hellenbrect said. "And we will then open it up to public comments."

Among the most vocal opponents of the cell tower proposal have been some members of The Shuvart Family, who live near the site, on Manitou Circle.

Michael Shuvart acknowledged the lengthy nature of the application, but said he felt a lot of progress had been made in recent meetings toward bringing out what he described as "discrepancies" in the application.

"It's time for us to provide our witnesses," said Shuvart, who noted the residents onsulted with a radio frequency engineer and a real estate appraiser.

Hellenbrect said that while meeting attendance has fallen off somewhat since the hearings became televised in April, residents have continued to follow the process.

"There has been a considerable amount of interest through the entire hearing," he said.

Hellenbrect disagreed with statements made suggesting the cell tower has become the longest-running application to come before the Zoning Board.

This distinction, he maintains, is held by a four-year-old application for a gas station at the end of Orchard Street.

Schmidt, Verizon attorney Gregory Meese and representatives from the Cranford Swim Club did not return calls for comment.

The next hearing on the application will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at the Municipal Building, 8 Springfield Ave.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 10/06/2008

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, October 6, 2008.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, October 6, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!

This Zoning Board meeting will also be televised live on Cranford's TV-35. Please tune in if you cannot make it to the meeting!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

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

Union County Local Source

The Star Ledger

The Westfield Leader

The Scotch Plains - Fanwood Times

Union County Local Source: Submit Your Own Cell Tower Updates & News

If there are any other newspaper links that you would like to see added to this list, please email me at residents.act@gmail.com 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!

Continue the fight Cranford!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 08/29/2008

Objectors to Cranford Cell Tower Bring in Attorney
by Leslie Murray
Friday August 29, 2008

CRANFORD - The contentious application to build a monopole cell tower at the Cranford Swimming Club (CSC) continued this week as the attorney for a group of objecting residents presented testimony from a planner and a radio frequency engineer.

The August 25th meeting marked the seventh time the application by a cooperative of cellular providers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile, has been heard by the Board of Adjustment. The application calls for a 120 foot monopole tower on the rear of the swim club property at the border of Cranford and Westfield. At least one more meeting will be required before a decision on the application is rendered.

The tower was initially proposed at 130 feet but was reduced when Sprint Mobile dropped out of the application. Greg Meese, attorney for the applicant, and experts have maintained the carriers have a gap in coverage and need the tower to meet service demands.

Residents in both towns have objected, saying the tower will negatively impact their property values and could be a health risk. A group of objectors have hired attorney John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper to represent their concerns.

The application has also drawn objections from Union County and the state, with county attorney Norman Albert saying the tower would negatively impact the neighboring Lenape Park. In a letter to the Cranford Zoning Board, written last year, The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office asserted the Rahway River Parkway Historic District, which was formally identified by the National Register of Historic Places in September 2002, would be damaged if the tower was erected.

This week Schmidt presented testimony from planner Peter Steck and engineer Ronald Graiff that conflicted with the initial testimony given when the applicant gave concluding testimony from expert witnesses.

Speaking about the variances that had been requested in the application, which include exceeding the maximum height for a tower, less than the required set back from a residential zone, and less than the required front yard and side yard setbacks, Steck said the applicant had used the standard setbacks for areas that allow cell towers as a permitted use. However, because the area is an R-1 residential zone and the tower use is not permitted, Steck called it "improper to apply the standards (for a tower in) a non-residential area." What's more, he said the board could demand more stringent set backs at the site if they deemed it necessary.

Steck also objected to the testimony by William Masters, Jr., planner for the applicant, which supported the tower because it offered a benefit to the public at large.

"In my opinion, this is not an inherently beneficial use," Steck told the board. He added that he believed the neighboring county park land was "just as sensitive as a residential area and possibly more sensitive", a direct contradiction to Masters' comment that fewer residents would be impacted because the tower was near the park. "It will, in my opinion, dramatically affect the quality of that recreational area," Steck said of the tower's impact on Lenape Park.

Questioned by Meese about other suitable sites for such a tower, Steck said it was not his task to find alternate sites and while he did agree with Meese's assertion that the surrounding plots were too small to accommodate a cell tower "in (his) opinion size is not the only issue."

Answering a question from board chairman Robert Hellenbrecht regarding the total impact of the tower, Steck said that noise and other traffic at the site currently are seasonal and the noise of children at both the park and the swim club are not generally considered offensive, but "a cell tower is foreign" to the area.

When Steck concluded his testimony, the audience of nearly 50 people broke into a round of applause. The group also lauded the testimony by Graiff.

As Graiff testified about the two issues that impact wireless service - coverage "the ability of a system ... to provide a receivable signal" and capacity "the system's (ability) to handle what's delivered to it" - and began to speak on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules regarding cellular communications, Meese objected.

Graiff replied that though he wasn't an attorney he had been on the FCC rule-drafting committee and would not offer an interpretation of the rules, but would only read them to the board. Board attorney David Weeks said the testimony was admissible.

As he testified, Graiff said it was unclear if the application was about coverage or capacity. What's more he objected to the testimony by the applicant's radio frequency engineer Glen Pierson that the current cell sites in the area would reach maximum capacity by 2010.

"Forgive me, but it's nearly impossible to design anything, from a cellular network to a power grid ... to the maximum capacity," Graiff said. "I'm not questioning the grid design. All I'm questioning if that someone can make the bold statement ... that this cell site will run out a capacity by 2010," he said.

Calling the potential tower at CSC "poor cell site placement", Graiff said that using the information provided by the applicant, he saw a 62 percent duplication in coverage for T-Mobile, a 52 percent duplication of coverage for AT&T, and nearly a 50 percent duplication in coverage for Verizon.

When the application continues on October 6, Meese will cross examine Graiff and another expert witness is expected to testify before the public is allowed to comment on the application.

The Westfield Leader 08/28/2008

Attorney Calls Witnesses Against CF Cell Tower
By CHRISTINA M. HINKE

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

CRANFORD — The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment held its seventh hearing for the application of SMSA Limited Partnership, composed of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, for a proposed cell phone monopole at the location of the Cranford Swim Club, on Monday night, before a room filled with about 50 residents.

The Westfield and Cranford residents opposed to the tower hired an attorney, John Schmidt, and he called his first two witnesses. Peter Steck, a planner since 1976, gave testimony based on the applicant’s planner’s testimony. Mr. Steck said the township’s ordinance states that telecommunications facilities are restricted to “non-residential areas,” emphasizing that the restriction is not just for a residential zone, but the area.

He concluded that the applicant’s planner did not provide a burden of proof as to the visual impact of the 120- foot monopole from Lenape Park. Because the park’s walking trail has no trees and is at the top of a berm, he said visitors on the trail would “see the tower more than residents” in the area and that the parkland is “even more sensitive” than residential. He maintained it would “dramatically affect the quality of that recreation area.” Mr. Steck said, “Your code states the visual impact is significant.”

Board Chairman Robert Hellenbrecht asked what other sites in the area would be deemed as having a visual impact, such as a pool, referencing the swim club. Mr. Steck responded that a monopole is “foreign.” He also said the tower’s proposed placement is in the 50-foot buffer zone that the swim club must provide per the ordinance so as not to encroach on the homes in its vicinity. “I don’t think that the applicant provided evidence to the board to approve this application,” Mr. Steck said. He stated that most of Lenape Park is located in a wetlands area and that, depending on the species of wildlife that live in the wetlands, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requires either a 50-foot or a 150-foot buffer from a monopole.

Mr. Steck said there was no testimony given by the applicant that wetlands existed. He said if the DEP requires a 150-foot buffer than the tower would not comply, but there would not be a problem with the 50-foot buffer. He said it is not his job to provide the proof that the tower would be or not be in compliance; it is his job to state that the applicant did not present this information. According to the Union County website, Lenape Park has a Bluebird sanctuary and Tree Swallows have been sited there.

Mr. Steck also acknowledged that the Rahway River corridor extends into Lenape Park and that the state recognizes that this district is eligible national historic consideration. He said the applicant’s planner did not bring this to the board’s attention.

Mr. Schmidt also called Ronald Graiff, a radio frequency engineer licensed since 1975. He said there was no evidence saying, “that calls will fail when you get outside of that sea of green,” referring to the area that has cell phone coverage. Mr. Graiff also noted the applicant has stated they are applying for 1950 PCS band coverage. Nowhere does it state that they are applying for capacity, he said. Glenn Pierson of PierCon, a radio frequency expert for the applicant, had testified at earlier meetings as to the capacity problems cell phone carriers will see by 2010.

Capacity is the ability of a cell phone carrier to serve a multitude of call at once, and if it cannot handle the capacity, then a call would not go through, but would at a later time when the lines were not busy. Mr. Graiff also disagreed with Mr. Pierson’s calculations on capacity that the carriers would max out in capacity by 2010; Mr. Pierson took the “super capacity” dots from the graph he presented and “extrapolated that” to reach his conclusion, according to Mr. Graiff. Mr. Graiff believed he should have used the “mean line.” “If I tried to design for that kind of peak, I would go bankrupt,” he said of Mr. Pierson’s chart, and noted that Mr. Pierson used times of the year where people tend to make more calls, such as holidays.

Mr. Graiff also called the proposed area for the tower “poor cell site placement,” showing an overlay map he drew based on Mr. Pierson’s data. He also said that all three carriers have duplicated coverage in the range of 42 to 63 percent, where “good engineering” calls for 10 to 12 percent. He also said that because of “confusing testimony” that he could not say there was a gap in coverage.

The applicant’s attorney, Gregory Meese, will question Mr. Graiff at the next meeting on October 6. He is expected to question the witness for an hour to an hour and a half. Mr. Schmidt also has one other expert witness to testify.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 08/24/2008

Cell Phone Tower Meeting

To The Chronicle:


There will be a meeting of the Cranford Zoning Board in the Cranford municipal building, 8 Springfield Ave., on Aug. 25 at 8:15 p.m. The subject is Verizon's proposed 120-foot cell tower, which Verizon wants to locate on the Cranford Swim Club property, located on the Westfield/Cranford border. All interested persons are urged to attend.

Jenny Schuvart
Westfield

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 08/25/2008

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, August 25, 2008.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, August 25, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

The attorney for the residents will begin calling expert witnesses to testify at this meeting. If time allows; the attorney for the county will also call witnesses to testify on this date.

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!

This Zoning Board meeting will also be televised live on Cranford's TV-35. Please tune in if you cannot make it to the meeting!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Westfield Leader 07/17/2008

Applicant Closes Case for 120-Foot Cranford Cell Tower Bordering WF
By Christina M. Hinke

CRANFORD — In the sixth hearing for the cell tower application before the Cranford zoning board on Monday, the applicant’s attorney, Gregory Meese, closed his case.

At the next meeting on August 25, John Schmidt, the attorney representing the residents opposed to the application, will bring his expert witnesses to the stand.

The applicant, SMSA Limited Partnership, composed of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, seeks a use, height and setback variance to place the 120-foot monopole and an equipment shelter at its base in a residential zone at the Cranford Swimming Club located on County Park Drive and bordering Westfield. It was announced last month that Sprint dropped out.

Another variance was added to the application on Monday. During Mr. Schmidt’s address to the applicant’s planner, William Masters, Mr. Schmidt began reciting parts from Cranford’s Master Plan. The plan specifies that in a residential zone, only one principal use is allowed per site.

Board vice chairman Jeffrey Pistol requested the board attorney add this as another variance to the application, since the tower would be a second principal use should it erect on the swim club property.

At the last meeting, Mr. Masters said the shelter to house the telecommunication companies’ equipment would stay the same size “in case of an additional carrier in the future.” At the meeting this week he amended his testimony, stating that the size would reduce by 360 square feet to 2,400 square feet to account for the loss of Sprint.

Mr. Masters said this does not change the side-yard or front-yard setbacks because the unit would sit on the east side of the lot in an interior side of the property. He said the site is suited for a telecommunications tower, citing proximity to major traffic corridors, such as Kenilworth Boulevard and Springfield Avenue, the size of the swim club property, which he said is 3.02 acres, the proximity of the club to Lenape Park, some 270 acres of open land that is Green Acres property that cannot be developed for residential purposes, and a willing landlord.

He also said the landlord picked the spot on the property where the tower would sit. Mr. Masters presented an aerial photograph of the proposed area to place the tower, and several posters with photos showing simulations of views with the tower in place.

The simulated photos depicted a red helium balloon erected at the approximate height where the tower is proposed. Then he took the same photograph and digitally added in a tower where the balloon was shown. His pictures were taken from areas on Nomahegan Court, Springfield Avenue, Lenape Park, the swim club, and Manatoa Circle in Westfield.

“It would have some negative impact, but I don’t think it would be substantial,” Mr. Masters responded to Mr. Schmidt’s question of the impact of the view of the tower from a home. Mr. Masters said “it’s possible the view will change once the 14 trees are removed.”

Mr. Masters also gave the board photos showing a simulation of a tree pole, a pole that is outfitted to appear like a tree. Mr. Meese said the applicant is willing to use a tree pole should the board decide to approve the application and make that a condition of approval.

“I believe this board can grant this variance without substantial detriment to the public good,” Mr. Masters said. “Other than the park and Union County College, I saw no other sites that were more particularly suited [to place the tower],” Mr. Masters responded to a question from the board.

Mr. Schmidt asked Mr. Masters if the cell tower is an essential service as described in the Master Plan and Mr. Masters said he “agrees it is not an essential service.”

About 35 residents were in attendance, a drop from previous meetings.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 07/14/2008

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, July 14, 2008.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, July 14, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!

This Zoning Board meeting will also be televised live on Cranford's TV-35. Please tune in if you cannot make it to the meeting!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 07/11/2008

Cranford Chronicle
July 11, 2008

This Week's Events

Monday, July 14, 2008 - CELL TOWER HEARING - the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment continues a lengthy hearing on a proposed cell tower at the Cranford Swimming Club on the Westfield/Cranford border.

8:15 p.m. Municipal building, 8 Springfield Ave. (908) 709-7216.

Cranford Chronicle 07/11/2008

Cranford Chronicle
Letter to the Editor


July 11, 2008

GOP Candidate Lays out Position on Tower

To The Chronicle:

I am one of two Republican candidates in the upcoming election for seats on the Cranford Township Committee. The other Republican candidate is Mr. Christopher Drew. This letter is in response to the letter of Mr. Myron Borden that appeared in the June 20, 2008, edition of your publication, but is really addressed to all Cranford residents, particularly those living near the Cranford Swimming Club, which is the site proposed for construction of a cellular phone tower. In his letter, Mr. Borden asked the Republican candidates to "come out against the tower."

I cannot envision anyone opposing a legally-enforceable restriction that prevents location of a cellular tower near residences. I unequivocally and unreservedly favor adoption of an ordinance prohibiting cellular towers in our community, or at the very least, in, near or within visual sight of residential and commercial areas, to the extent that it would be legally enforceable. As Mr. Borden points out, these are unsightly structures which would detract from surrounding areas that are intended to be visually appealing. They also give rise, I think quite understandably notwithstanding whatever contrary expert opinion may prevail at the moment, to genuine fears of adverse health effects. The presence of children only heightens this concern. Nor do these structures belong near our downtown, the Centennial Avenue business district or similar commercial areas. They would undermine the aesthetics that our community has long worked hard to develop to attract customers. Property values would undoubtedly diminish too.

Prohibiting cellular towers does not mean that telecommunication companies or property owners that seek to lease or sell to them could not seek variances from the ordinances as are now being sought, however. With or without such an ordinance, future applications like the current one are inevitable. It is the purpose of the Board of Adjustment to decide requests to deviate from the zoning ordinances, including outright legally-enforceable prohibitions.

I am unaware of the views of my running mate, Christopher Drew, on this topic. We have not even discussed the subject. That is because Mr. Drew sits on the Board of Adjustment that is considering this very application. As a part of this board, it is incumbent upon him, despite his candidacy, and all other members to analyze the arguments, scrutinize the evidence, and decide the application based only upon the law as applied to the facts substantiated at the hearings. To furnish his personal perspective at this juncture would be not only imprudent, but could conceivably jeopardize any result of the process that is consistent with whatever opinion he expresses. Certainly Mr. Borden and his neighbors would not want any favorable result in the present cellular tower application compromised. Yet that might follow if Mr. Drew were to respond. As a result, Mr. Drew has correctly refrained from comment.

MARK P. DUGAN
Cranford

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Record Press 06/30/2008

Even at 120 Feet, Fight Continues Over Cell Tower
Monday, June 30, 2008
By LESLIE MURRAY

CRANFORD - Ten feet shorter, but still a whole heap of trouble: that's the tale of the proposed cell tower at the Cranford Swimming Club.

As the Zoning Board of Adjustment held the latest in a series of hearings about the controversial tower Monday night, a group of about 60 neighbors again crowded council chambers to object to what they see as a threat to their home values and their quality of life.

The consortium of wireless phone companies that hopes to use the tower has lost one member, announced Greg Meese, attorney for the applicant. Sprint Mobile has dropped out, leaving behind Verizon Wireless, AT& T and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobile. As a result, the tower would have to be only 120 feet, not the 130 originally proposed. (Meese also noted that Sprint's decision was not based on the vocal opposition to the plan -- the company has taken similar steps on applications around the state, he said.)

While the wireless carriers have maintained that they need the tower to meet current and future service demands, residents in Cranford and Westfield have banded together in opposition and hired attorney John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper to represent their concerns. Union County has also objected to the application, saying the tower would be detrimental to the Rahway River Parkway, with attorney Norman Albert representing the county at the hearings.

At Monday's session, Meese attempted to introduce additional testimony from radio frequency engineer Glen Pierson. He presented raw data that had been requested in March by Schmidt, the residents' attorney.

But Schmidt quickly questioned the timing of the presentation, saying that he had been "blind-sided unfairly." Surmising that the data would have been ready for a cancelled meeting in May, Schmidt said he could not be expected to review the thick pile of material and question Pierson when he received the information just as the engineer began his testimony. At the request of board Chairman Robert Hellenbrecht, Meese agreed to have Pierson available for testimony at the next hearing.

After Pierson stepped down, the bulk of the session was given over to a real estate appraisal. John Gillooly of Integra Realty Resources presented a study that compared the sales of homes in proximity to a monopole cell tower both before and after the tower was constructed.

Explaining that he could not study the area in question because a cell tower does not currently exist there, Gillooly used as a point of comparison Brown Avenue in Springfield, a neighborhood where a cell tower was built in 2004 and that he called "roughly similar in its construction and design" to the area around County Park Drive, where the swim club is located.

In his review, Gillooly said, he found that the value of homes with a direct view of the tower and those without such a view appreciated at nearly the same rate.

Questioning the study, board member Jeffery Pistol gained a round of applause when he asked if Gillooly had taken into account buyers who might avoid an area altogether specifically because of a cell tower.

"Mountain Avenue in Springfield is different than the Boulevard in Cranford because it's a more commercial area," Pistol added.

"Yes, it's not identical to the subject area, but it's similar," Gillooly responded.

Board member Carolyn Youngs also questioned the comparison as it related to the distance between the cell tower and surrounding homes. Quoting the report, she said the closest homes in Springfield were about 600 feet from the tower there -- more than twice the distance from the proposed tower to some homes in Cranford and Westfield. She also questioned if the appreciation rate was the result of market demands that existed regardless of the tower's presence.

"My study shows there's not a big difference," Gillooly said. "If the cell tower had an impact, you would see it in the sale prices."

Given a chance to cross-examine Gillooly, Schmidt asked whether the appreciation rates were really that similar -- according to the study, homes with a direct view of the tower appreciated in value by 9.6 percent, while those without a view grew in value by 13 percent.

Gillooly interjected that the two appreciation rates "are relatively close in appraisal methodology" and he would be likely to round both figures to 10 percent.

Westfield resident Austin Habib discounted the report entirely, saying that "the neighborhoods are not compatible."

Cranford resident Paul Fuller advanced the same line of argument, asking how far the study area in Springfield was from Route 22. When Gillooly said he was uncertain, a member of the audience interjected, saying the site was just two-tenths of mile from the highway. Continuing, Fuller said the two locations - one near a highway in Springfield, the other in a "basically rural" section of Cranford and Westfield - were not comparable.

After Gillooly's comments, the board heard limited testimony from planner William Masters Jr. about the changes to the application caused by the Sprint's withdrawal. Masters will resume his testimony at the next hearing, on July 14. The board also has the application scheduled for hearings on Aug. 11 and 25.

After the applicant concludes its case, Schmidt and Albert will present their own expert witnesses, and the public will also have a chance to comment before the board makes a decision.

Leslie Murray is a staff writer for NJN Publishing. She can be reached at (732) 396-4205 or lmurray@njnpublishing.com.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 06/27/2008

Even at 120 Feet, Tower Brings out Opposition
Friday, June 27, 2008
By LESLIE MURRAY

CRANFORD - Ten feet shorter, but still a whole heap of trouble: that's the tale of the proposed cell tower at the Cranford Swimming Club.

As the Zoning Board of Adjustment held the latest in a series of hearings about the controversial tower Monday night, a group of about 60 neighbors again crowded council chambers to object to what they see as a threat to their home values and their quality of life.

The consortium of wireless phone companies that hopes to use the tower has lost one member, announced Greg Meese, attorney for the applicant. Sprint Mobile has dropped out, leaving behind Verizon Wireless, AT& T and Omnipoint, a branch of T-Mobil. As a result, the tower would have to be only 120 feet, not the 130 originally proposed. (Meese also noted that Sprint's decision was not based on the vocal opposition to the plan -- the company has taken similar steps on applications around the state, he said.)

While the wireless carriers have maintained that they need the tower to meet current and future service demands, residents in Cranford and Westfield have banded together in opposition and hired attorney John Schmidt of Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper to represent their concerns. Union County has also objected to the application, saying the tower would be detrimental to the Rahway River Parkway, with attorney Norman Albert representing the county at the hearings.

At Monday's session, Meese attempted to introduce additional testimony from radio frequency engineer Glen Pierson. He presented raw data that had been requested in March by Schmidt, the residents' attorney.

But Schmidt quickly questioned the timing of the presentation, saying that he had been "blind-sided unfairly." Surmising that the data would have been ready for a cancelled meeting in May, Schmidt said he could not be expected to review the thick pile of material and question Pierson when he received the information just as the engineer began his testimony. At the request of board Chairman Robert Hellenbrecht, Meese agreed to have Pierson available for testimony at the next hearing.

After Pierson stepped down, the bulk of the session was given over to a real estate appraisal. John Gillooly of Integra Realty Resources presented a study that compared the sales of homes in proximity to a monopole cell tower both before and after the tower was constructed.

Explaining that he could not study the area in question because a cell tower does not currently exist there, Gillooly used as a point of comparison Brown Avenue in Springfield, a neighborhood where a cell tower was built in 2004 and that he called "roughly similar in its construction and design" to the area around County Park Drive, where the swim club is located.

In his review, Gillooly said, he found that the value of homes with a direct view of the tower and those without such a view appreciated at nearly the same rate.

Questioning the study, board member Jeffery Pistol gained a round of applause when he asked if Gillooly had taken into account buyers who might avoid an area altogether specifically because of a cell tower.

"Mountain Avenue in Springfield is different than the Boulevard in Cranford because it's a more commercial area," Pistol added.

"Yes, it's not identical to the subject area, but it's similar," Gillooly responded.

Board member Carolyn Youngs also questioned the comparison as it related to the distance between the cell tower and surrounding homes. Quoting the report, she said the closest homes in Springfield were about 600 feet from the tower there -- more than twice the distance from the proposed tower to some homes in Cranford and Westfield. She also questioned if the appreciation rate was the result of market demands that existed regardless of the tower's presence.

"My study shows there's not a big difference," Gillooly said. "If the cell tower had an impact, you would see it in the sale prices."

Given a chance to cross-examine Gillooly, Schmidt asked whether the appreciation rates were really that similar -- according to the study, homes with a direct view of the tower appreciated in value by 9.6 percent, while those without a view grew in value by 13 percent.

Gillooly interjected that the two appreciation rates "are relatively close in appraisal methodology" and he would be likely to round both figures to 10 percent.

Westfield resident Austin Habib discounted the report entirely, saying that "the neighborhoods are not compatible."

Cranford resident Paul Fuller advanced the same line of argument, asking how far the study area in Springfield was from Route 22. When Gillooly said he was uncertain, a member of the audience interjected, saying the site was just two-tenths of mile from the highway. Continuing, Fuller said the two locations -- one near a highway in Springfield, the other in a "basically rural" section of Cranford and Westfield -- were not comparable.

After Gillooly's comments, the board heard limited testimony from planner William Masters Jr. about the changes to the application caused by the Sprint's withdrawal. Masters will resume his testimony at the next hearing, on July 14. The board also has the application scheduled for hearings on Aug. 11 and 25.

After the applicant concludes its case, Schmidt and Albert will present their own expert witnesses, and the public will also have a chance to comment before the board makes a decision.

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

The Westfield Leader 06/26/2008

Sprint Backs Out of Cell Tower Proposal in Cranford
By CHRISTINA M. HINKE

CRANFORD – Gregory Meese, attorney for SMSA Limited Partnership, the applicant proposing a cell phone tower at the Cranford Swimming Club on County Park Drive, presented revised plans during the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting on Monday, showing the height of the monopole reduced by 10 feet, from 130 to 120 feet, because Sprint backed out of the deal. This height difference changes the required setback of tower height distances from 162.5 feet to 150 feet and alters the minimum setback to a property line, which is now 360 feet, reduced from 390 feet. The application is still not within the required setbacks.

William Master, a professional planner hired by the applicant, said the compound area for the remaining, three telecommunication companies’ equipment would stay the same size “in case of an additional carrier in the future.” Mr. Master will continue his testimony at the next meeting on Monday, July 14. John Gillooly, a real estate appraiser certified since 1992, spoke on behalf of SMSA and gave most of the testimony that evening.

He presented a paired sales analysis, which he said is a study of a sale of one property and a resale of the same or “very similar” property. He studied all “same” properties in his report. He said that since there was not a cell tower in the Cranford area in question, he looked at a “comparable location” that had a monopole. He chose 51 Brown Avenue in Springfield, north of Route 22. The tower was built in April 2004, and is “one mile from the subject’s location,” according to Mr. Gillooly.

Someone in the audience later shouted that it is two-tenths of a mile from Route 22, according to a satellite image the person had. The Springfield tower is located in an industrial zone, whereas the tower SMSA is proposing would be located in a residential zone, with the tower 246 feet from the nearest home in Westfield.

In his report, dated June 16, 2008, he showed two sets of data, those homes with a view of the tower and those without. He looked at all sales prior to and following April 2004 to determine the appreciation rate, a measure of increase in the value of a sale. He said he eliminated homes that were “substantially renovated,” which he listed as having a remodeled kitchen, a finished basement or an addition, among other things, from the first sale. This information, he said, was either obtained from a building permit issued or disclosed from a real estate agent. He also removed homes that were sold for one dollar and cases where a property was sold as part of an estate sale.

His findings determined that homes with a view of the tower increased 1 percent on average per month, or 12 percent per year, and homes without a view were the same, on average. The median rate of appreciation was 0.8 percent per month for homes with a view and 1.1 percent for homes without a view. The mean was 0.6 to 1.7 percent with a view, and 0.7 to 1.3 percent without a view per month.

Jeffrey Pistol, vice chairman of the board, asked Mr. Gillooly many questions and made comments. “You would expect to find an increase,” Mr. Pistol said of any property sale over a given time period. “It doesn’t tell us anything,” Mr. Pistol said of Mr. Gillooly’s data. Mr. Pistol added, “People know if there is a cell tower, view or not, and they may choose to look in another neighborhood. That’s the real type of analysis you should have done.” The audience clapped in response. “Just by looking at these addresses…it is more of a commercial area than Kenilworth Boulevard in Cranford,” he said. He also asked why he did not look at a comparable neighborhood without a tower to see the difference in appreciation.

Mr. Gillooly responded by saying there is not a comparable area. Mr. Gillooly told The Westfield Leader that no one had asked him to examine rates of appreciation in the Cranford/Westfield area that would be affected by the tower placed at the swim club during that same time period he calculated for Springfield to see if appreciation rates were below, same or higher than the same period in Springfield. This could give the board a way to compare the “comparable area” affected by a tower to the Cranford/Westfield neighborhood. He also said that he couldn’t compare this area to the one he calculated in Springfield because “there still could be a location difference.”

In sum, he said, “I have never found an impact” to the rate of appreciation due to a cell phone tower in proximity to a residential zone.

Westfield resident Austin Habib asked Mr. Gillooly what the prices were of the residences in his market area. He answered with numbers ranging from $380,000 to $630,000. Mr. Habib shot back that homes in the Westfield and Cranford area are in the $600,000 to $850,000 range. Mr. Habib also said “many times you don’t need a license for it [remodels].”

Norman Albert asked Mr. Gillooly if views of Manhattan or a waterfront could have a tax impact on a home, and he answered yes, it may.

Cranford resident Frank Krause later asked if a cell tower could negatively impact the tax revenue to a township by a lower tax assessment of homes with a view of a tower, and Mr. Gillooly said that was not his area of expertise. Mr. Krause also raised the question of how the members of the swim club, each an owner of the club because they buy a bond to join, could be impacted by their share in a sale should the swim club dissolve and the property be sold off.

The board said Mr. Gillooly did not have to answer since he testified to no data such as this.

Earlier in the night, Glenn Pierson, expert engineer for the applicant, gave the opponent’s attorney, John Schmidt, a pile of raw data used for Mr. Pierson’s earlier charts of gaps in coverage for each cell phone carrier that was requested before.

Mr. Schmidt said he was “blindsided” by Mr. Pierson giving him these records in the hearing, knowing he had his own witness to speak on behalf of this information. Mr. Pierson had possession of the data months earlier. Mr. Schmidt’s witness will speak at a later meeting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting Tonight!

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal tonight, Monday, June 23, 2008 at 8:15pm.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, June 23, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!

See everyone at the meeting!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 06/20/08

Cell Tower Hearing Continues Next Week
By Leslie Murray

Cranford - The next hearing on the controversial application to build a monopole cell tower at the Cranford Swimming Club will be held at 8:15 p.m. Monday, June 23 before the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment. The hearing will take place at the Cranford municipal building, 8 Springfield Ave.

The application, which began in 2007, involves a cooperative effort by Verizon Wireless, Sprint Mobile, AT&T and Omnipoint to build a 130-foot tower on the swim club property. The wireless phone carriers have said they need the tower to fill a gap in coverage.

Residents in both Cranford and Westfield have objected to the plan, saying the tower would be an unsightly intrusion in a residential area and could have detrimental consequences for health and public safety. Union County has joined in the objection, saying the tower would have a negative impact on neighboring Lenape Park.

The most recent hearing on the application was in March. Another hearing had been scheduled for May, but was postponed. A real estate appraiser, a radio frequency engineer and a planner are slated to offer testimony on behalf of the project.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cranford Chronicle 06/20/2008

Cranford Chronicle
Letter to the Editor


June 20, 2008

Committee, Candidates Should Oppose Cell Tower

To The Chronicle:

How would you like to walk out of the front door of your home and have to look at a 13-story tower with the paraphernalia of four cell phone companies, one on each side of it?

This is exactly what more than 100 homes in my neighborhood will be faced with if the Cranford Swimming Club is granted the seven variances they are asking for. Their members are apparently willing to do this so that they will pay lower membership fees.

They are doing this even though their children will be playing each summer within 25 or 50 feet from potentially dangerous electro-magnetic rays emanating from the tower. They are doing this even though all their neighbors' property values may be decreased. Is this the acceptable thing for neighbors to do? Would they do this if their own homes were within sight of such a tower? I don't think so.

I would like the Cranford Township Committee to pass an ordinance prohibiting such towers from being built in any residential area in Cranford. No one should have a 13-story tower within sight of his or her home. The cell phone executives go home to their beautiful surroundings; we live here 24 hours a day. We would be doing the right thing for Cranford.

This issue should not be a political one.The Democratic candidates have come out against this cell tower. The Republican candidates should also come out against the tower. Their views should be made public.

Myron Borden
Cranford

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Action Alert! Zoning Board Meeting 06/23/2008

The Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a continuation hearing for the Cranford Swim Club cell tower proposal on Monday, June 23, 2008.

Meeting Information:

DATE: Monday, June 23, 2008

TIME: 8:15pm

PLACE: Cranford Municipal Building [Room 107], 8 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey

Please arrive early as we are expecting a large turnout!