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T-Mobile Cell Tower Application Fails

The application is voted down, 4-3 against the applicant.

After nearly two years of deliberation, hearings and testimony, the Bridgewater Township Zoning Board of Adjustment ruled 4-3 Tuesday to deny an application from for a 130-foot cell tower at the .

The decision was met with applause from the residents in attendance, who came out strongly against the application with a variety of concerns. Chief among those concerns was the impact a 130-foot cell phone tower would have on the aesthetics and overall character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

“A lot of the firemen will not see it every single day, except for when they call into work,” said Gail Naughton, of Eddy Lane. “The residents will, every single day.”

“I think we can all agree that continued growth and improvements are necessary,” added resident Fran Hozeny. “Unfortunately, this can often bring unwelcome change that significantly impacts our environment and immediate surroundings.”

Others were concerned about the resale value of their homes. Many speculate that cell phone towers and other such structures actually reduce property values when placed near residential homes.

“Would you buy a house there, close to the proximity? This is what it’s going to look like,” said resident Barry Walker, who presented a diagram to the zoning board to represent the differences between the sizes of the homes in the neighborhood and the height of the proposed cell tower. “It’s an eyesore. It’s a problem, and there are other methods to solve this problem.”

Some of those, including using Distributed Antenna System (DAS) technology, were dismissed by T-Mobile, despite having been used effectively to provide coverage to cell phone users in other municipalities. Experts for T-Mobile have said at past meetings that the DAS technology will not provide the same level of coverage as a tower would.

“T-Mobile, right away, didn’t even want to talk about those. They said that technology doesn’t work,” said zoning board member James Scott, who voted against the application. “Later, our engineer said he talked to other municipalities and found that the distributive devices may work and he would be willing to take a look at it.”

This point was echoed by board chairman William Vornehm who, despite voting in favor of the application, believed that alternative coverage sources could have been investigated more deeply by T-Mobile.

“I think that there is probably a different technology,” he said. “We cannot dictate technology, necessarily, but I can see where allowing or investigating other technologies would have been a better situation.”

Fellow board member Donald Sweeney voted in opposition of the application, stating that its negative impacts on the community, if approved, were enough reason to turn T-Mobile away. Sweeney also noted that, in his opinion, the only positive impact of a cell tower in the proposed location would be to provide T-Mobile users with slightly expanded coverage at the expense of nearby residents.

“I have to conclude that, on balance, the proposed tower does pose a substantial detriment to the public good,” he said.

Not everyone on the board felt that way. Board member Pushpavati Amin, who voted in favor of the application, said that the potential impact of the project on the community has been overstated by many.

“The visual impact is not that great,” she said. “I’m not really convinced that the property values would go down with this particular tower going in.”

In the end, though, it was the residents who won out, all of whom at Tuesday night’s meeting seemed to agree that a better plan is in order for the next proposed T-Mobile project if the cell phone giant wants the application to pass.

“They are looking at this as, ‘What will solve the problem now?’ That is not a plan,” said resident Simone Gaunt. “That is a quick fix, and that’s a big problem when you’re coming into a residential area.”

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Mike Umbris May 23, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Shocking, Pushpavati Amin votes Yes on another Cell Tower. I hope the Township Council examines her (and Christine Rose's) relationship with the Cellular industry. Something is amiss with this individual and her voting record with regard to cellular issues.
ML May 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
What is truly shocking is that people find a tower an eyesore yet we have endured two years of the eyesore of a sign opposing it which has become part of the landscape across the street from the Firehouse. We can only hope this brings an end to that property value lowering piece of trash also.
Synergy May 23, 2012 at 08:24 PM
It is disappointing that something that was so overwhelmingly NOT wanted by the residents, was entertained for so long by the Zoning Board of Adjustment and nearly okayed, especially when alternative technology that is not an eyesore is available. Residents beware, the town ZBA does not work for your best interests, and needs to be monitored.
Fran Hozeny May 23, 2012 at 11:12 PM
ML: I'm sorry you thought the signs were an eyesore for the last 2 yrs. Just think of the eyesore the residents would have to look at if the tower was built. The signs will come down, if they haven't already -- the tower would be an everlasting eyesore. And, if you think home values wouldn't come down -- just ask people who live near cell towers, high tension wires, etc. You might think differently. On another note, I'm always amazed that some people who have so much to say, don't have the -- and I'll try to be a lady about it -- "you know whats" to sign their name.
ML May 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Oh believe me, I have the "balls". In fact I am on the losing side. Doesn't that take balls? The reason I chose to leave my name out is because of the classless folks like you who i knew would surface and choose to make it personal. I didn't realize we weren't each entitled to an opinion as well as our anonymity, such a shame Fran.
Mike Umbris May 23, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Fran, the firefighters are angry they let T-Mobile talk them into this horrible deal and I am not surprised by what 'ML' said. I would like to personally extend an olive branch to the Green Knoll Fire Company and 'reboot' relations in an attempt to put this all behind us. We need their help and I am thankful for their service to the community. Perhaps the Fire Company leadership could put out a statement how they will not attempt future cellular communication variances etc in an effort to bring both sides back together?
Fran Hozeny May 24, 2012 at 01:37 AM
:ML: I take offense to you calling me classless. I never said this was a personal issue and I never said you weren't entitled to your opinion. Furthermore, I just came to the hearings to support the folks who felt very strongly that they didn't want to look at a cell tower in their "residential" neighborhood. I certainly support the firefighters and I think it takes a lot of "you know whats" to fight fires. And if you are a fireman, kudos to you and I thank you for your service. This was never a personal issue on my part. I really don't understand why you would even say that to me. I have nothing against the firefighters. And, ML, I was just also voicing my opinion which I am also entitled to. So, if you still think I'm classless, maybe you should face me eye to eye and then if you still feel the same way, so be it. Certainly, it/s your perrogative. As far as I was concerned, it was never about the fire company, it was T-Mobile
ML May 24, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Fran, I would be happy to see you eye to eye, please free free to contcat me at ml08807@yahoo.com. Incidentally, I am not a Fireman, nor a man and never brought up the Fire Company at all. I simply said I was a supporter of the cell tower. If it was not personal then what is this? "On another note, I'm always amazed that some people who have so much to say, don't have the -- and I'll try to be a lady about it -- "you know whats" to sign their name." Sounds personal to me.
Gary May 24, 2012 at 07:53 PM
If I understand the technology correctly they were going to put a "flag pole" style tower into the area. Methinks a 2' diameter 130' pole not much of an eyesore....
Gary May 24, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Here, here. Same camp. Moreover, the analysis done on property values didn't even consider "flagpole" style towers, they used latice tower structure. Personally, I think these were a few activist residents who have a general problem with creative alternatives to stressed finances.

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