image_pdf
A rendering of the proposed monopole.
PLANNING DEPARTMENT

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

Orange Road residents will not have to contend with a cell tower going up in their neighborhood. The applicant, New Cingular Wireless PCS, notified the township of its application withdrawal on Feb. 20.

New Cingular Wireless PCS proposed an AT&T telecommunications facility at 310 and 320 Orange Road. The application was expected to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on April 15.

New Cingular Wireless PCS had proposed installing a 65-foot monopole containing six concealed antennas, as well as a generator and related equipment, at the site of a mixed-use building at 310 Orange Road, plus 12 antennas on the roof of the adjacent building at 320 Orange Road. The properties are owned by Viral Patel of South End Realty and are situated in a Neighborhood Commercial zone and across from the Montclair Local office and near Nishuane School, senior residences, a daycare center, and a restaurant. 

On Jan. 28, the community met in the Pine Street Firehouse with five panelists composed of town officials and residents to discuss the project’s impact. While some residents welcomed the better connectivity the tower could bring, some neighbors were concerned with the health effects and aesthetics of the 65-foot pole.

Despite the company stating that the telecommunications equipment itself would emit radiofrequency exposure levels “far below” the 34.5 percent of the Federal Communications Commission standard, community members worried that the combination of the new tower with already existing cell towers, could exceed the acceptable level. According to the application documents, continuous exposure at 100 percent of the FCC limit is considered by the scientific community to be just as safe as continuous exposure at 1 percent of the limit.

Other sites considered for the equipment installation were Rosedale Cemetery and Nishuane School. Those options were scrapped due to perceptions about health effects, Baskerville said.

Township attorney and panelist Ira Karasick said the zoning board could not consider testimony related to health concerns about the monopole, per FCC legislation. In addition, the council has no direct authority on decision-making related to the application, he noted. The zoning board would have to show substantial detriment in order to deny the application. 

Under the 1996 Federal Telecommunications Act, no local or state statute may prohibit the ability to provide interstate or intrastate telecommunications services. If an application is denied, substantial detriment and other factors must apply.

New Cingular Wireless PCS did not return a request for comment on why it withdrew the application.