Thursday, December 16, 2010

Portion of article re T-Mobile Cell Tower in Medford, NJ

Lieberman says he does not object to T-Mobile building a cell tower in Medford but does not feel the land in question is the right location.

It should be in a more isolated area. From a land use perspective, a residential community is not a good place for an industrial application of this kind. There is a need to find a place where a tower would be less intrusive and not have such a large visual and audible (due to the generator) impact on natural resources.”

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We agree. At the Monmouth Church of Christ, the cell tower will be only 120 feet to the nearest residence. How about that large visual and audible impact? Does T-Mobile make any effort at proper placement of towers, or do they just say we have the Telecommunications Act of 1996 behind us, so screw your zoning laws, we dare you to stop us?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

12/9/10 article in The Hub

Neighbors unite to block cell tower
T-Mobile seeks approval for tower on church property

TINTON FALLS — A group of residents have hired an attorney and started a nonprofit organization in an attempt to block a proposed cell tower from being constructed in their neighborhood.

Members of the group, known as RACE (Residents Against Cell Tower Exploitation), attended the Dec. 2 Zoning Board meeting for the continuation of a cell tower application by T-Mobile.

The proposed tower is slated to be located at the Church of Christ property at 312 Hance Ave. RACEVice PresidentAllisonWinter said the group’s main concern is safety.

“For us, the main safety concern is it is unknown what the effects are,” she said in an interview at the Zoning Board meeting. “There haven’t been any longitudinal studies because this hasn’t been around long enough.

“We do not want our children to be the guinea pigs of the potential dangers of the cell towers,” she added.

Winter said that she and RACE President Nancy DeSimone together have five children under the age of 10, and she is concerned about their health.

DeSimone also said she is unhappy with the church’s failure to alert the neighborhood about the proposal.

“The Monmouth Church of Christ has been in negotiations with T-Mobile for over a year and we just found out about this in July with about 10 days before the Zoning Board meeting,” she said. “The church never approached us, they never let us know anything that was going on until we got a certified letter saying this is what is going to happen.”

During the first hearing on the application in July, the hearing room was filled with about 100 people opposing the cell tower.

“We had well over 100 people, we had fliers, we had a ton of support,” DeSimone said. “We really rallied and we still do have a great deal of support.”

However, at the most recent hearing, one in a series of hearings on the application, only a handful of residents were in attendance and DeSimone said long meetings and the inability to speak freely have drawn attendance down.

DeSimone said RACE became a nonprofit organization and has hired attorney Michael Laffey to represent them legally.

She explained why the group became a nonprofit entity.

“There are only three of us footing the bill for our attorney, something we can’t just pull out of our pockets,” she said. “We have a good deal of support from the community.”

During the hearing, T-Mobile presented engineer Kunjan Shukla as an expert witness.

Shukla said that the tower would meet height and parking requirements, but would need a variance because of its proximity to residences.

He also testified that the tower would be safe. During previous hearings, T-Mobile witnesses stated that the tower would meet all emission standards and would not emit enough radiation to put residents living in bordering properties at risk.

A 2007 application by the Board of Education to build a cell tower at Mahala F. Atchison School drew widespread opposition and was never constructed.

DeSimone said the need for the tower isn’t great.

“One of our neighbors has T-Mobile and has no problem whatsoever,” she said. “They are saying it’s about cell service but really it’s about data transfer.”

Winter said that in a future hearing RACE will suggest various locations around the borough that would be better suited for a cell tower.

“There are other proposed sites where they can get their coverage without leasing in a residential area,” she said. “There are other places to put this.”

The hearings will be on hold for the time being, but DeSimone said they should reconvene in January or February, when RACE will have a chance to testify and present expert witnesses to the board.

“I would say February would be the big meeting,” she said. “We are hoping for a good decision.”

Contact Kenny Walter at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Discrepancies in Plan Drawings by T-Mobile

Notice how in the first diagram of the fall-out zone from the cell tower, the 120-foot radius just about touches the property line of Lot 12.

Now notice in the second diagram from the cell tower to Lot 12, the same measurement from the pole to the property line of Lot 12 listed at 155.1 feet.

The same measurement, two different numbers?? So we measured it and it was 124 feet consistent with the first drawing. T-Mobile's site engineer testified about noise standards at 155 feet to the nearest property and that they were within the decibel standards for the State of NJ. How about at the true measurement of 124 feet, and actually the equipment cabinets would be 114 feet from the nearest residence, do they still meet the standards? Was this an intentional misrepresentation or an honest mistake??

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yes, Cell Phone Towers Do Collapse

At the 12/2/2010 Zoning Board meeting, T-Mobile's site engineer testified under oath that he never in his career heard about a cell phone tower collapsing. Well, we did a quick search for him and found two examples. Here's the first article from the MetroWest Daily News from 2009:

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"A cell phone tower collapsed right off Route 9 eastbound early Friday afternoon, after a fire started underneath the tower while welders were working on it.

The fire burned for about 20 to 25 minutes, said Wellesley Police Sgt. Glen Gerrans. The tower collapsed before firefighters, who were waiting for power to be cut, could begin putting out the fire. No one was hurt, according to Gerrans.

'Underneath [the base of the tower] are electronic boxes that contain switching equipment and so forth,' Gerrans said, pointing to the still smoking tower, 'and the workmen were working on that part underneath the actual cell phone tower itself using welding equipment and that’s what started the fire.'

Once the welders realized there was a fire, they ran away from the tower, Gerrans said.

The top of the tower fell a few feet from the entrance of the closed and uninhabited Wellesley Travel Inn. A group of onlookers from Lee Volvo and Lee Jaguar of Wellesley stood outside their offices, watching as fire and policemen worked the scene.

'Well the fire just started on the top and it was coming up the wires on the side and then all the fire trucks came, and it kept burning,' Tommy Richards of Lee Volvo said. 'I thought it was going to come onto our lot and it kind of would’ve been in the way. So I was glad it went the other way.'"

Adam Tausevich, a technician with Lee Jaguar, said he saw the cell phone tower catch fire. Concerned that the tower would fall onto the car lot, Tausevich said he and several colleagues started moving cars out of the way, just in case.

“Smoke just started coming out of it and then flames and I got video of it just crashing to the ground,” he said. “It was kind of cool. Something different. You don’t usually see that every day. Most excitement for today, I would say.”

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Here's one more article from the Sioux City Journal:

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"VERMILLION, S.D. -- A cellular phone tower collapse onto South Dakota Highway 50 stopped traffic for nearly two hours Saturday morning.

The Western Wireless (Cellular One) tower collapsed at 7 a.m. about four miles east of Vermillion. The two westbound lanes were closed until 8:45 a.m. when Department of Transportation crews were able to move the tower. Traffic was rerouted until then.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office investigated and determined the cause of the collapse to be metal fatigue involving one of three support cable anchors. The anchor failure occurred approximately six feet underground.

The collapse is affecting cellular phone service in the Interstate 29 area between Beresford and Jefferson. Cellular One representatives said they will build a temporary tower to restore service."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Article in AARP Bulletin re Tinton Falls cell tower

Cell Towers? Not in My Backyard!

Residents want broadband but call the towers an eyesore and worry about property values

from: AARP Bulletin | November 29, 2010

When Meg Rubinstein bought a home three years ago in Greenbriar Falls, an upscale 55-plus community in Tinton Falls, N.J., a big selling point of the area was its beauty. She lives on a corner, next to woods, and often sees wildlife from her window. This summer, however, Rubinstein learned that T-Mobile Northeast hoped to erect a 120-foot cell tower in a church yard across the street from her. She is not happy about the news.

"Cellphone towers are industrial structures and need to be confined to commercial or industrial properties and not pollute neighborhood communities," she said. Rubinstein fears that not only will the tower be an eyesore, it will decimate her property value. So she and others who live near the church are attending the town zoning board meetings in an attempt to stop construction of the tower. Some of them have hired a lawyer.

A cellphone tower may be coming to your community soon, too, if it hasn't already. According to CTIA — The Wireless Association, a nonprofit that represents wireless companies, there are more than 251,000 cell sites in the United States, an increase of almost 5,000 sites over the past year. Thanks to the proliferation of cellphones and other wireless devices, wireless providers need to increase wireless broadband and data network capacity to satisfy their current customers and to attract new ones. As a result, they are stepping up efforts to add more sites.

Residents aren't shy

When word gets around that a tower may be moving into a neighborhood, residents opposed to the idea are not shy about speaking up. The federal government prohibits towns from restricting cellphone towers on health grounds, yet residents continually cite health fears. While many experts say that the radio frequency waves emitted by the towers pose no danger — the towers are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission — people who don't agree say it is too soon to know the long-term effects.

In Altadena, Calif., natural health educator and radio host Revvell Revati, 61, was part of a group that opposed the construction of a cell tower on nearby church property two years ago. "It would have been right across the street from me. I was upset," she said. Altadena residents succeeded in thwarting the effort, however. "The community group said we couldn't talk about health, so we won on aesthetics," Revati said.

Unfortunately for residents like Rubinstein and Revati, contributions to churches have taken a hit in this economy, so they're a prime target for cellphone companies dangling lucrative lease agreements in exchange for allowing them to locate a tower on the property. Cellphone firms are also wooing firehouses, private citizens and towns themselves — towers are being erected on both public and private property, and there's a federal initiative to extend broadband access to remote and rural areas.

Some residents have criticized the way their local governments have handled the issue. Morton Bleetstein, a retired financial planner who lives in a gated community in North Hills, Long Island, protested when Sprint erected a cell tower near him eight years ago. "It was the way it was done — there were no hearings, nothing. We were fuming," Bleetstein said. The tower was in full view of the community, about 60 or 70 feet above the tree line, he recalled. When the residents pressed the North Hills Village Board to have the tower removed, Sprint agreed to reduce its height by half.

Boomers want broadband

To be sure, boomers, as they age, will benefit from improved broadband access — in greater access to mobile health applications and emergency services. Still, those who moved to their homes or retirement communities when they were cell tower-free insist that there must be alternative locations for the towers.

Ann Brooks, a spokesperson for T-Mobile, said that the ability for carriers to select cell tower location is crucial, however. "Close to 25 percent of Americans are wireless households — they have cut their landlines and are using only their wireless devices to keep in touch with their businesses and families. We've got to provide the infrastructure that allows them to use their phones when and where they want. That means we are going closer to residential areas," she said.

Lawyer Norman Albert represented Union County, N.J., when a group of cellular providers wanted to erect a tower on the grounds of a swim club in the town of Cranford in 2008. Local residents voiced the increasingly common concerns about property values and potential health hazards, while the county argued that the beauty of a nearby park would be affected. The wireless companies failed to make the case that the tower was necessary. Albert, 56, who lives in Cranford, said recently that he sympathizes with the residents — he would not have wanted a tower near his house, either. "But as more cases happen, cellphone companies will get more sophisticated in how they present and appeal these cases," he noted.

The "stealth solution"

In some areas, towers are designed to look like a pine or palm tree, which cellphone companies say fit well with the scenery, as opposed to the readily identifiable steel monopole design. Companies such as Engineered Endeavors and Stealth Network Technologies have disguised the towers to resemble saguaro cacti, flagpoles, clock towers and lighthouses. Antennas have also been hidden in church steeples and placed on water towers.

These "stealth solutions" are one way in which carriers are trying to appease residents, said Brian Josef, director of regulatory affairs for CTIA. "Carriers have responded in a number of ways to try to address coverage issues while being respectful of consumers' concerns about more towers," he added. For example, besides "stealth antennas," they have introduced smaller antennas that can be placed on utility and light poles for increased coverage. He also noted that people can buy free-standing, mini-cell sites for the home, called "femtocells," for better service for mobile phones.

Such solutions might have mollified Northville, Conn., resident Eric Jones, 46, who spoke out at a local zoning commission meeting against construction of a cell tower on his road two years ago. "I didn't see the need for it. Cell phone service is a convenience, not a necessity. I was worried about whether it would be visible," Jones said. Like others, the medical laboratory worker was concerned that it would decrease property values. The cellphone company won the argument that the tower was needed in Northville, and it was erected.

It is not only the unsightliness of the towers that angers residents; some people take issue with the research indicating that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the towers does not pose a problem. The Federal Communications Commission states on its website: "Measurements made near typical cellular and PCS installations, especially those with tower-mounted antennas, have shown that ground-level power densities are thousands of times less than the FCC's limits for safe exposure." Some residents argue that cellular technology is too new to be certain about the long-term effects, however, and further studies are needed. To be sure, the subject elicits strong feelings from opponents, especially among those concerned about their children's safety.

For Jones and his neighbors, the fight is over. In numerous other towns, however, the controversy rages on.