Residents Continue Cell Tower Debate
Many say they don't want a tower in the township, especially near their homes
Washington Township residents living near the municipal complex, where a bid has been awarded to Verizon for a cell tower, and those who reside near the Dog House Saloon, an alternative location being considered, came out to the council meeting Monday to encourage officials to choose another spot.
Mitchell Rosenthal, who has come to many council meetings to speak out against the cell tower, said if the tower must be built, it should be in a place with the least impact on residents. He suggested putting the cell tower on the north side of the municipal complex, between the flag pole and the DPW garage.
"It would stick out over the building so Verizon still would get their service but it would eliminate the horrible look when you're driving up Pascack Road for this cell tower because it's pretty much hidden," he said.
Rosenthal, who lives on Hoover Avenue near the alternative site, said that would be the best place for the tower.
Norman Rauch, who lives on Wilson Avenue, suggested putting a tower near Washington Town Center since that's where many of the cell coverage complaints originate. He said that would be a better spot than the highly residential area by the Dog House Saloon.
Wilson Avenue resident Liz Leahy pleaded with officials to keep the cell tower away from the alternative site, saying it would be 10 feet from her back door.
"I know that nobody wants a cell tower and it's going up," Leahy said. "I can't beg you enough to consider a better location for this. Please don't put it by the Dog House."
But Viola Terrace resident Les Eslinger said he opposes a tower at the municipal complex.
"I would be looking at the cell tower every time I open my front door," Eslinger said. He also questioned how the construction and ongoing maintenance would be completed at the site.
Eslinger asked who benefits from the tower, to which Council President Fred Goetz answered, "The people of Washington Township." That response was met with many "No's" from the crowd.
Washington Commons resident David Snyde said he and his neighbors lack cell coverage and would benefit from a tower, wherever it is installed.
Councilman Joseph D'Urso lives on Viola Terrace, which he says is about 2,000 feet from where the cell tower at the municipal complex would be. He had asked officials to consider an alternate location for the tower.
"We are attempting to put four or five equipment sheds in a 20 by 80 spot," D'Urso said. "I never liked this spot."
He said he suggested putting the tower by the Ambulance Corps building because there would be much more room for equipment and more trees to block the view. But the Ambulance Corps owns that building so the township would not see revenue from a tower there. D'Urso said he would be willing to give the group the revenue, but the site wasn't offered.
According to D'Urso, the cell companies were offered the firehouse, the municipal complex and Sherry Field as viable locations. Government officials have awarded a bid to Verizon for a cell tower at the municipal complex where the police radio tower, standing at 80 feet, currently sits. The bid calls for a 120-foot cell tower at the location.
Township Attorney Kenneth Poller told the council and the public on June 27 that the cell companies found the alternative site to be viable, but explained changing the location would cause legal issues for the township since a bid was already awarded.
D'Urso suggested Monday that the governing body look into a tower at the Sullivan Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel since that facility is losing rent money from the Westwood Board of Education. The school district will begin housing students in the pre-K program at the high school instead of the Sullivan Center in September.
Although D'Urso said he would prefer not to have a cell tower in the township at all, he said it is inevitable.
"I'm not for the cell tower but I am for doing something because we're going to get sued," D'Urso said.
Crest Place resident Greg Bernroth said he wants the tower, which had been promised to be completed by last March, installed.
"Will the cell tower be put up in my lifetime?" he asked. "There's nothing but meetings. ... Let's get the damn thing built."
The next township council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 15.