Friday, July 11, 2008

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.