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T-Mobile Cell Tower Suit Draws Township Response

Denial of the cell tower was not arbitrary, Bridgewater response says.

The township zoning board has responded to a lawsuit filed by T-Mobile, saying that its denial of a 130-foot cell tower was not unjust.

The zoning board, under the direction of attorney Lawrence Vastola, filed its response to the lawsuit Oct. 26 in Trenton.

T-Mobile filed a lawsuit in October against the Bridgewater Township Zoning Board of Adjustment over the denial of an application to build a 130-foot cell tower at the Green Knoll Volunteer Fire Co. on North Bridge Street.

According to the lawsuit, as filed with federal court, the board’s denial of T-Mobile’s application violates the federal Communications Act and is “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful under New Jersey law.”

In the response from the township, attorney Vastola states that although the defendant admits the application was filed, it denies all the charges filed against the zoning board.

“...[I]t denies that its decision effectively prohibits Plaintiff from providing personal service, is supported by substantial evidence and is arbitrary, capricious and unlawful under New Jersey law,” the response states.

In addition, the response states that it denies allegations that rejecting the tower application violates the Federal Communities Act, or is arbitrary, capricious and unlawful under the law.

T-Mobile is seeking an injunction from the court to require the zoning board to approve the application for the tower at the proposed location.

The zoning board denied the application in May after almost two years of hearings. The application was for a 130-foot cell tower at the firehouse with a 6-foot high fence surrounding it and three equipment cabinets within that fence.

During hearings for the tower, the applicant said the tower would cover a gap in coverage in the area of the firehouse, but that it would not cover all the gaps, and another tower might be necessary in the future.

Residents expressed concerns about the tower, saying it would change the character of the residential neighborhood surrounding the fire house, and that other options should be considered to handle the gap in coverage like the distributed antenna systems.

According to the resolution approved concerning the denial of the application, the board determined that the application failed to satisfy the negative criteria of building the tower, and decided that the public interest would not be served through the proposed tower. The board also found that the height of the tower would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

“The board finds that it cannot ignore the impact which the height of this tower will have, as the applicant suggests,” the resolution said. “The board concludes that the proposed tower will have a detrimental effect on the surrounding residences as well as on the street scape.”

The board also determined, from the testimony of witnesses, that the tower would have an adverse impact on property values, the resolution said.

In the response from the board concerning the lawsuit, they deny that the proposal for a cell tower was the least intrusive way of remedying the gap in coverage, as well as T-Mobile’s statement that the proposed facility would allow the company to repair a gap in coverage.

The response also denies allegations by T-Mobile that, in their testimony, they demonstrated why alternative locations for the tower would not be beneficial and that the variance for the tower would not be detrimental to the township.

Finally, the response also states that the zoning board denies the allegations by T-Mobile that they satisfied the criteria for building the facility, among other similar allegations.

“The action of defendant in considering the plaintiff’s application was in all respects proper and just, was not arbitrary, capricious or unjust and its decision was supported by substantial evidence,” the response said.

John Arcoleo November 15, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I had very sporatic cell phone service after the hurricane and most of the time it was a roaming tower from another carrier. Why would the town try to block additonal cell phone towers which could improve the chances of cell phone coverage after natural diasters.
Scott Hagen November 15, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Just like those ugly power lines that everyone was complaint about after they went down. People fear new things , I suspect there was a fight over installing power lines ,and those ugly roads a while ago too. Funny.
andrew leven November 15, 2012 at 03:46 AM
If either of you had spent even one evening during the two years of hearings on this tower, you would not be making such silly, "sage" comments
Steven T. Cornella Sr November 15, 2012 at 06:15 AM
@ Andrew ........ Exactly people opening there mouths and crap just falling out !!..It's quite obviously ether have a clue as to why it was proposed or the arguments in regards to it's location and the conversely around the entire TOWER and the Town ship and residents voting on it .Try getting involved or attending a municipal meeting ....... before you add your 2 cents ................the end .......
Fran Hozeny November 15, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Andrew- Steven, People just being ignorant to the facts! Unless you attend the meetings, hear both sides and are negatively affected, one should just keep their mouths shut. Again, it's the "me first and the heck with you all" generation! I wonder where these people live. Certainly not in the affected area -- Would they like the tower in their backyard just for the convenience of 1-1/2 miles!
Nancy G. November 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Cell Phone service was disrupted not because there aren't/weren't enough towers...it's because the cell towers had no power and their back-up batteries were running out. It's what happens when you have massive power outages that last for more than a day. Having another tower in this situation is useless.
Nancy G. November 16, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Roads and power lines benefit ALL the people who live near them; cell towers don't (since they are a subscriber service). So, as a resident of Foothill Road who WOULD be affected by the tower, I couldn't care less about a painfully tiny service gap for a T-Mobile user/commuter who is likely driving 55mph through our residential area. No service provider guarantees complete coverage--NONE.

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