Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Local Source: Cranford News 1/23/2008

Board Gets Some More of Cell Tower Plan

By Paul Greulich
January 23, 2008

CRANFORD, NJ - Monday’s meeting of the Zoning Board is expected to feature final testimonial and public comments on the controversial cell tower application that has livened up the board’s meetings the last few months.

The applicant, Verizon, is seeking height and setback variances needed to place the 130-foot pole on the grounds of the Cranford Swimming Club in a residential area.

The township Zoning Board could vote on the application at Monday night’s meeting.

The pole would feature four separate antennae servicing companies that include Omnipoint, Sprint and Verizon. Revenue generated for the swim club by having the tower on their property has been estimated at exceeding $20,000.

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

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

Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, who was the chairwoman last year, said the Freeholder board fully supports this opinion, and is advocating against the construction of the cell tower.

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

Another consideration is the active bird watching community that frequents Lenape Park where some rare species have been sighted.

Previous cell tower projects in Cranford and other areas have involved towers that utilize existing tall structures, with the upper reaches of the antennae encased in false facades like cupola and chimneys, but Hellenbrecht said that such options appear less likely in this instance.

Kowalski said she feels cell towers are a necessary part of life, but finds the proposed location near the park unsuitable.

Both Cranford and Westfield residents have gotten involved in the issue because the proposed tower would be visible from across the border in the next town.

Zoning Board members Chris Drew and Richard Brightman were not available for comment by press time. Cranford Swimming Club official Jackie McDermott did not return calls for comment.

Paul Greulich can be reached at 908-686-7700 ext. 121, or at

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