Friday, April 9, 2010

The Westfield Leader 04/08/2010

Cranford Cell Tower Decision Is Upheld by Superior Court

CRANFORD – The township board of adjustment’s (BOA) decision to ban erecting a 120-foot cell phone tower on the property of the Cranford Swimming Club was upheld last month by the state Superior Court.

State Superior Court Judge Douglas Fasciale, of Westfield, on March 19 wrote that the decision of the BOA is affirmed. The judge heard arguments from Omnipoint in court on January 15. In his letter, Judge Fasciale wrote, “Omnipoint failed to prove the particular suitability of the site by demonstrating the need for a facility on the property. Omnipoint failed to submit reliable evidence of a coverage gap at the 1900 MHz frequency. The proposed site contravenes the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance to restrict telecommunication to nonresidential zones, may negatively impact nearby property values and will have a negative visual impact of the surrounding area, which includes a recreational park.”

“We’re really happy with the decision. I think it’s the right decision for our community,” BOA Chairman Robert Hellenbrecht told The Westfield Leader last week. The proposed site for the tower borders both Westfield and Cranford, and from October 2007 through December 2008, residents of both municipalities,as well as the county, fought Verizon Wireless, Omnipoint Communications, New Cingular PCS, and Sprint Spectrum, which pulled out mid-way through the hearings, in their joint application to install the monopole. The cellular companies cited there was a gap in coverage in the area, and the swim club, located on County Park Drive, was the only
property approached that was willing to provide space for a tower. Union
County College and Dreyer Farms, both across from Nomahegan Park, were other locations approached by the cellular companies.

In December 2008, the BOA unanimously decided that the applicant did not prove a significant gap in coverage and that the detriments to the residents surrounding the area of the proposed cell tower location outweighed the benefits.

Omnipoint filed an appeal to the board’s decision in early 2009 citing, “there was no competent expert testimony or other evidence disputing any of the plaintiff’s testimony or evidence, only net opinions unsupported by any factual analysis or study.” As part of its appeal, Omnipoint produced in court an FCC ruling that was adopted on November 18, 2009, after the BOA denied the application. According to the judge’s letter, Omnipoint can apply for a new application for a zoning variance based on the FCC ruling and “the BOA will need to address that request.”

Article Courtesy of

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cranford Patch 04/02/2010

Cell Phone Tower Project Defeated
A state Superior Court judge has rejected a mobile phone company's request to build a cell phone tower on the property of the Cranford Swim Club
By Kristin Thorne
April 2, 2010

After more than a year of meetings, petitions and hearings, many Cranford residents are pleased that a judge has decided to reject a request to build a cell phone tower on the property of the Cranford Swim Club.

In December 2008, the Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected an application by Verizon, AT&T Wireless and OmniPoint Communications – also known as T-Mobile – to build a 120-foot tower on the private club's property on County Park Drive. The companies said there was a gap in coverage in the area.

OmniPoint appealed the decision and the case made its way to the Superior Court of New Jersey. Late last month, the court decided to uphold the Cranford Zoning Board's ruling.

Cranford Mayor Mark Smith said OmniPoint failed to prove that there was a gap in coverage.

The decision is a victory for many Cranford residents who had been fighting the proposal for some 15 months. They created a website to rally support against the tower. A petition on the site received more than 270 signatures. Smith said he, not as a municipal official but as a resident of Cranford, signed it as well.

Residents argued that the cell phone tower shouldn't be built in a residential zone. They said it would drastically reduce their property values by creating an eyesore in a scenic part of town. The swim club's property is located adjacent to Lenape Park and near Nomahegan Park. Residents said the tower would extend 60 feet about the tree tops and would destroy the natural aesthetics of the parks.

Roxanne Graham of Cranford wrote on the online petition, "This lovely area near the park is what sold us. We would have thought twice about buying had we known this tower would be our neighbor."

Another concern for residents was the potential health risks of living near the tower.

"This poses a health hazard to the hundreds of children growing up in this upscale community. This belongs on Route 22 or some other non-residential area," wrote Mark Glickman of Westfield. Since the tower would have been close to the Westfield border, people there also got involved in the fight.

Residents can now take an even deeper sigh of relief because Smith said the Superior Court judge dismissed the suit with prejudice, meaning OmniPoint can't bring the petition back again.

Article Courtesy of