Edison, NJ -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/19/2014 -- A proposed plan to construct a cellular tower next to residential housing in Edison New Jersey drew fierce opposition from residential property owners at a recent Edison Zoning Board Hearing. Please go to http://stopcelltower.org/ for more information.
The proposal was made by Verizon Wireless and a commercial property owner in Edison NJ to build a large cellular tower in very close proximity to residential homes on a portion of the Festival Plaza shopping center that borders residential homes on Knapp Avenue in Edison. The cell tower would be as close as approximately 25 yards to the nearest residential property. The Festival Plaza Shopping Center might be better known as the former Tops Appliance Shopping Center and was purchased by the current owner, Michael McCarthy, in 2008. The proposed cell tower and lightning rod would extend approximately 96 feet above ground level. The cell tower would be located directly behind Knapp Avenue residential properties in an area previously required by the Edison Township Zoning Board to be a buffer zone between the shopping center and the residential properties.
Years ago, the shopping center was expanded to allow retail space along the area that runs parallel to Knapp Avenue. But when this expansion was approved, the Edison Zoning Board required a buffer zone in the area between this newer retail space and the private homes. A more recent attempt to expand the shopping center parking lot approximately 12 years ago was denied by the Edison Zoning Board. At that time Edison homeowners protested the proposal arguing that the further expansion would effectively eliminate the buffer zone.
One property owner opposing the cell tower at an Edison Zoning Board Hearing on January 28, 2014 said the cell tower is too close to residential properties and further stated that cell towers next to residential housing always negatively impacts home values. He said that most people faced with the choice between buying a home next to a cell tower versus a home not next to a cell tower, would usually opt for the home not located next to the cell tower. This, he argued, causes reduced demand for properties near cellular towers, and reduced demand always translates into lower property values. The homeowner stated this is unfair to homeowners. The homeowner also argued that previous attempts to expand the shopping center in the area of the buffer zone were denied, and the use of the buffer zone for any commercial purposes would be unfair, since the buffer zone was a requirement for the prior expansion of the shopping center that runs parallel to Knapp Avenue. Another resident argued against the approval of the cell tower citing potential health risks.
The owner of the Festival Plaza Shopping Center, Michael McCarthy, in sworn testimony before the Edison Township Zoning Board on January 28 indicated that his motivation for allowing Verizon to build a cellular tower on his shopping center property was not money, but instead was a desire to help Verizon increase their capacity. Mr. McCarthy stated that his income from Verizon would only amount to roughly the equivalent of the rental cost of a 3-bedroom apartment in the area. A Knapp Avenue homeowner owner addressed that claim by Mr. McCarthy with skepticism, saying that the rent on a 3-bedroom apartment in the area is only approximately $1700 to $1800 per month and that it seems likely that Mr. McCarthy’s financial benefit would be much greater. Further, the Knapp Avenue homeowner stated that Mr. McCarthy and Verizon would financially benefit from the cell tower at the direct expense of nearby residential property owners, whose property values would suffer as a result of a cell tower being situated so close to their back yards.
The Verizon representatives included legal and engineering experts, including one said to be flown in from California to attend the January 28th hearing in Edison. Verizon representatives attempted to make the case that the company needs to expand their usage capacity to serve an increased demand for wireless services. Verizon representatives also stated the company hit capacity usage for this area in July of 2013 and December of 2013. In rebuttal, an Edison residential property owner said that Verizon cellular service seems to be consistently strong in the area and recalled that during the turmoil in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Verizon cell services worked well throughout the area, while other cellular carriers experienced significant service problems and outages. The homeowner stated there are better areas where Verizon should seek to locate any new cell towers which should be areas much further away from residential housing.
The next hearing on the matter by the Edison Township Zoning Board is scheduled for April 22, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the Edison Municipal Building located at 100 Municipal Boulevard in Edison. The public is invited to attend and to voice any objections to the Verizon proposal.
For further Edison NJ News concerning this controversial cell tower application affecting Edison homeowners, residents and private Edison NJ real estate please go to StopCellTower.org