Chatham Township Residents Unhappy Over Proposed Temporary Cell Tower
Friday, September 28, 2012 • 6:53am
CHATHAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - Chatham residents expressed concern and aggravation over a possible temporary T-Mobile cell tower at the Township Committee Meeting on Thursday night.
Several residents spoke at the meeting saying that they “want us [Chatham] to send a message to them [T-Mobile]” and that “its too big a risk to bend over backwards for something that isn’t really needed.”
According to the township, the temporary cell tower would be built at Esternay Field for a maximum of three years. This is because under state law the temporary tower can only be in place for two years with a potential one year extension if the town consents; but no longer.
Federal law however, states that the town does have to reach some agreement to accommodate the service provider, siting that the service they provide are important to the public. The law further states that this is especially essential in an emergency situation.
Committee member Bailey Brower made it clear that they are “not setting a precedence for future towers.”
T-Mobile wants to build at 150-foot temporary tower that would service an area of Chatham Township that is approximately 1 mile long. However, much of the service area that would be covered is part of New Providence, not Chatham Township.
Brower further commented that the township would be “being good neighbors to New Providence” by allowing the tower to be built.
Much of the controversy was centered on a small playground that is currently located at Esternay Field. According to town officials and the Township Attorney, T-Mobile would be responsible for taking down the playground during the time the tower is to be in place and then supply the town with a new playground at the project’s completion.
Committee member Kathy Abbott pointed out to the public that the township would be earning roughly $37,000 a year in revenue for the project’s deration. She further stated that in one year, this new revenue could supply the needed funds for the dilapidated skate park that dominated conversation at the previous committee meeting.
Some other town officials worried that more information was required from T-Mobile before a consensus could be reached.
Residents were concerned that they don’t believe the town has done it’s due diligence, and feel that T-Mobile was not forthcoming enough with necessary information.
In response to these statements, Mayor Nicole Hagner assured them that the Zoning Board did “quite a bit of leg-work” as they were given the issue first.
Ultimately no action was taken on this issue, but a resolution was passed to begin the bid process for the work, with a 3-4 vote. Deputy Mayor Bob Gallop was not in attendance.
In addition to the cell tower, traffic congestion around the area of Lafayette School was also on the agenda and discussed by local residents. Two representatives from the “Safe Routs to School” program spoke at the meeting with various traffic concerns that they feel endanger the children attending the school. The parents made suggestions such a having a permanent crossing guard or more road signs to possibly aide the situation.
The committee said that it would look into the issue alongside Chatham Bough and the Chatham Township Police Department.