Neighbors unite to block cell tower
T-Mobile seeks approval for tower on church property
BY KENNY WALTER Staff Writer
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.”
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