Debate Over Communication Pole Continues

The new pole would go up to the south of the existing pole, and the existing one would be removed. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – A second Board of Adjustment hearing was held on June 2 for an application to build a 90-foot tall communications pole opposite Brick Beach 1 on the barrier island.

  Toms River attorney Rich Stanzione, representing Cello Partnership d/b/a Verizon, presented his case during the first hearing on March 31 of this year. A Use Variance is needed in order for the project to go forward as well as approvals for preliminary and major site plans.

  Stanzione was not the only attorney present during the Zoom meeting: two barrier island communities, Seneca Dunes Beach Association and Bayview Shores Homeowners Association, hired attorneys Robert Ferraro and Michael Castore, respectively to represent them and object to the plan.

  The 90-foot monopole would be constructed south of the existing temporary 72-foot tall communications pole located onsite at the Pioneer firehouse at 321 Route 35 north.

  There are only two zones on the barrier island: R-5 and the R-7.5 zone, which is where the firehouse is located, said land use consultant Timothy Krunk. The two residential zones do not permit wireless communications, which is why variance relief is needed, he said.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

  The fire station, the nearby police station, the municipal parking lot to the south, the beach to the east and a restaurant to the north create a non-residential cluster, and when combined, make the area of the proposed cell tower one of the least dense residential areas on the barrier island, Krunk said.

  Board of Adjustment engineer Brian Boccanfuso asked Stanzione to clarify that at no time would there be two towers standing at the site if the application is approved.

  The temporary tower would be removed when the new tower is put up, “so there won’t be two towers located there…it’s my understanding they can’t put up the new one until they’ve taken down the old one,” Stanzione said.

  Objecting attorney Castore asked radio frequency engineer Ron Lukach about alternate locations for the monopole.

  “To go back to how this site was landed on, were you tasked at only looking at this site for one specific purpose?” Castore asked.

  “The site has been in existence since June 2019,” said Lukach. “The approach was to look at the engineering criteria, the current coverage capacity, the engineering data, the objectives and evaluate the proposed site’s permanent recommendation as whether that met the criteria’s best approach to solve the requirements.”

  Lukach was not tasked with evaluating alternate sites, he added.

  Objector attorney Ferraro questioned the health effects of living near radio frequencies.

  Board of Adjustment attorney Ronald Cucchiaro said there was a lot of discussion regarding health impacts associated with living near a tower.

  “Do you have a legal position on that?” Cucchiaro asked Stanzione.

  Stanzione said that the NJ Supreme Court determined “that health was an inappropriate area for a Board of Adjustment or Planning Board to go into, and that the standard had been set by the FCC and the federal government, and as long as the standard is met…the board cannot consider the health effects.”

  Board of Adjustment Chair David Chadwick said the application would carry to a third meeting where cross-examination would continue by board members, by objector counsels and by Mr. Krunk.

  Public comment and questions will take place after the case has been fully presented, he said. There was a large number of members of the public who attended the Zoom meeting, Chadwick said.

  The next meeting will be in person (not Zoom) on August 4 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building on Chambersbridge Road.