Cell tower proposal for Tinton Falls withdrawn
Residents had opposed tower in residential area
TINTON FALLS — The 100-plus concerned citizens who packed Borough Hall last year to oppose a proposal for a cell phone tower can now rest easy.
Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera announced at the April 5 Borough Council meeting that the T-Mobile application for a cell tower in the borough has officially been withdrawn.
Skudera previously announced in February that the borough had reached a verbal agreement with the N.J. Turnpike Authority to change the site of the proposed T-Mobile tower from the grounds of the Church of Christ at 312 Hance Ave. to a site along the Garden State Parkway in Tinton Falls.
At that time, the application for the Hance Avenue site was not officially withdrawn from the borough’s Zoning Board of Adjustment agenda, but Skudera said last week that it finally is official.
“We have the letter from the attorney, so it’s official,” he said.
T-Mobile attorney James Pryor confirmed Monday that he did draft a letter withdrawing the application for Hance Avenue but would not comment further.
T-Mobile first appeared in front of the borough’s Zoning Board last July at a meeting that was attended by close to 100 residents, most of whom opposed the original location.
The main concern that has been raised in recent months about putting the cell tower in a residential neighborhood is that a proper safety study has not been done about the effects of cell tower-generated radiation.
Soon after the first hearing on the cell tower application, resident Nancy DeSimone formed a group named RACE (Residents Against Cell tower Exploitation) to oppose the proposed tower being located in her neighborhood.
Michael Laffey, attorney for RACE, said in an interview this week that his clients are relieved the fight is officially over.
“I’m glad for my clients’ peace of mind that the application has been withdrawn,” he said. “I don’t know the reasons why they withdrew it.
“I understood the mayor had some influence on it in that regard. Certainly my clients are very grateful to the mayor,” he added.
During the public portion of the meeting, resident Joseph Largey expressed cautious optimism until the Zoning Board officially approves the withdrawal.
“Back in February it looked like T-Mobile was withdrawing their application thanks to some good work from the borough,” he said. “I am just waiting until the Zoning Board meeting before I can celebrate.”
As of April 11, the Zoning Board had not officially accepted the withdrawal, and the next meeting is scheduled for April 21.
Largey went on to thank the borough for getting the application withdrawn.
“I want to thank everyone for their efforts on this,” he said. “That monstrosity would not have looked very nice on Hance Avenue for any of us.”
Skudera previously said that the council and borough administration endorsed the move to the parkway for the cell tower.
He also said that there are not a lot of other places in the borough that would work for both T-Mobile and the residents.
“It is something that gets the cell tower away from a residential zone and puts it in a better place — along the parkway — that is better suited for that,” Skudera said.
“This was an area that was best suited for a tower. The whole area where it is [proposed] now is residential; this was the closest suitable spot on the parkway, and it fits in very nicely.”
Skudera said the parkway spot probably isn’t ideal for T-Mobile, because the carrier would lose some coverage, but he estimated that the site would still allow for about 90 percent coverage.
The first hearing for the proposal started last July, and the Zoning Board heard a series of testimony on the proposal at several meetings since then.
T-Mobile was next scheduled to appear in front of the board in May, but that appearance has since been canceled.
A 2007 application by the Board of Education to build a cell tower at Mahala F. Atchison School also drew widespread opposition and was never built.
Contact Kenny Walter at email@example.com.