New Providence OK's Temporary Cell Tower
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 • 1:39am
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Board of Adjustment chose public access to 9-1-1 emergency service over neighbors’ concerns about their property values Monday and approved the construction of a temporary cellular phone monopole.
The board last month rejected the application filed by AT&T and Sprint, but attorney Judith Fairweather, representing the cell phone companies, argued that the board’s rules allowed a rejected application to seek a revote if there were substantive changes to the application.
Without board approval, Fairweather said, residents of that section of New Providence and Berkeley Heights, and travelers along Springfield Avenue, would lose cell phone service, Internet access and the ability to make emergency 9-1-1 calls as of Aug. 1, possibly for two years.
She explained that the application had been modified to reduce the number of antennas from nine to three, and a 10-foot fence had been added around the base of the pole.
The result, she said, is that phone service and 9-1-1 service would be available, but the loss of six antennas would reduce access to data and Internet service.
The monopole will be built at the rear of an existing auto repair shop at the corner of Union and Springfield avenues. Residents of nearby townhome complexes said the addition of the monopole would reduce their property values and create a visual eyesore.
The pole is required because Public Service Electric & Gas Co. is undertaking a two-year project to upgrade its high tension power lines through 15 municipalities including New Providence. Fairweather said PSE&G had notified the cell phone providers that the power would be shut off to their existing antennas on the current power line towers on Aug. 1.
While alternative sites had been explored, including a last-minute look at a borough-owned piece of property adjacent to the McDonald’s restaurant near the power lines, Fairweather said, the government procedures needed to gain access to that site would take too long to get approval before Aug. 1.
After a two-hour public hearing, the board agreed that maintaining access to emergency service was in the public good, and that the temporary nature of the monopole was something they could live with.
“There is a real need for access to the cell phone system,” said board member William Hoefling. “We have travelers passing to 78 along the route. A big, big issue is that it is temporary. This is the greater good. Every police car, fire truck and ambulance that passes through that area is a high-technology vehicle.”
Board chairman Bill Nadelberg agreed that the temporary nature of the monopole was important, and that the changes to the pole reduced the visual impact.