With midnight approaching, the Roselle Park Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) effectively put an end to T-Mobile’s application to construct a cell antenna tower on 140 West Webster Avenue by voting on a motion to deny the application. The actual vote was cast as a ‘yes’ in order to agree with the motion of denial. The vote was 6-1 in favor of denying the application, with Board Chair Joel Reed being the only dissenting vote. After questions and comments from the Board, the Chair began discussions on the different options available with regard to the facade and height of the proposed antenna. That is when Board member Richard Huxford interjected, “Speaking from my perspective only, I don’t think the (applicant) has proven their case.”
This was immediately followed by applause from residents in attendance. Mr. Huxford continued, “I just don’t think, specifically based on Mr. Graiff’s statements about if gap coverage was proven, there’s nothing in the evidence to show the proposed location will correct that gap issue. Based on that I will be voting ‘no’.”
The rest of the Board followed with their comments which concluded with the vote to deny the application.
Residents spoke during the public hearing portion of the application to voice their disapproval. Jake Magiera spoke first, stating, “The ground may be contaminated.”
Mrs. Vinnie Iungerman, herself a former member of the Zoning Board, asked if an alternate location could be found to place the tower. “You know, there’s a fire house over on Chestnut Street right alongside the railroad tracks… Have you considered that?”
The attorney for T-Mobile, Ms. Carillo-Perez, responded, “We’ve exhausted all possible properties and the only viable landlord is the one… that’s before us – JGH Reality – at the current location.”
At one point as Ms. Iungerman spoke, Ms. Carillo-Perez began asking her questions in a manner that resembled a courtroom more than a public hearing. “We’re allowed, pursuant to municipal land use on New Jersey Statutes to cross examine,” was her response when Mr. Huxford, himself an attorney, referenced the nature of the public comment portion of a meeting.
Not all in attendance who went up to speak were against the application. “I’m for the tower,” Mr. Paul Endler stated, “The location is the geographic center of Roselle Park.”
Mr. Endler addressed various concerns regarding height and safety, “We want to build a five-story building right next to the Little League field. That’s as high as the tower we’re talking about, the building will be probably higher than that.”
“You’re talking about safety,” he continued, “Right now, the Little League field has five light towers that I think are less stable than this tower would be. The athletic field I think have 20 or 30 light towers.”
Mr. Endler also addressed a broader topic with regard to Roselle Park, “We’ve got to wake up. Right now, there are about 30 businesses in Roselle Park that are vacant. Two of them are the biggest pieces of property we have in town,” he commented referring to the Sullivan Property and Ford World which both remain vacant.
“We’ve got to show the world and the people that Roselle Park, we are in favor of business,” Mr. Endler concluded, “We’re in a beautiful location… and still we can’t anybody come in here and invest any money in our town. So let’s give these people a break and help them out. Let’s not jump all over them. They’re a company that’s trying to help the town.”
Mr. Ogbevire, a resident near the proposed location, spoke in opposition to the tower, “I have some issues concerning this tower. It’s going to be in a residential area.”
He referred to earlier comments about whom the tower would benefit, “This idea that it’s going to benefit Roselle Park citizens. The purpose of this tower is to benefit T-Mobile… I do not think this tower is a good idea. I think it’s just for the benefit of T-Mobile and it’s going to cause problems.”
Mr. Graiff, the radio frequency consultant engineer hired by the municipality to offer his expertise, was present and asked questions to Mr. Ben Shidfar, the expert representing T-Mobile. During the informative and spirited back and forth (a highlight is available below), Mr. Graiff asked questions regarding the consistency of testing for coverage and admitted gap in coverage that will still exist in Roselle Park if the proposed location application is approved – a gap that might necessitate another cell tower within the Borough at a later date.
After all the testimony, questions, and comments were placed on the record, Mr. Reed asked the Board if there were any other questions. MLUB member Loren Harms succinctly stated, “Hell no, let’s go.”
On a separate note, a special meeting was scheduled for October 4, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. by the MLUB to discuss and vote on municipal ordinances which were on the agenda but due to the lateness (or earliness) of the hour, and the detailed attention needed to address them, were tabled and re-scheduled before he next municipal council meeting.