MANCHESTER – The contracts are signed. Now officials are in talks to agree on the right location.
Its construction is likely a year out, but Whiting will finally be getting a cell phone tower.
“It’s almost impossible with Pinelands to find a lot that Pinelands will let us build a cell tower on,” Manchester Council Vice President Samuel Fusaro said in reference to the environmental regulators the Pinelands Commission. “We knew that the cell service out there was skimpy in parts, especially in the eastern part of Whiting as you get east of Schoolhouse Road.”
The township had a least five different properties it was considering for the tower. Four of those lots were rejected because of their locations in forested areas. Pinelands finally agreed on Block 89 lot 3, which is off Route 530 by Pine Ridge.
“The original location for the tower, which was nearly in the middle of the lot is now up for discussion since Pinelands is concerned about threatened and endangered species, specifically northern pine snake or corn snake, or their dens. Pinelands gave a suggestion that if the tower was moved closer to Route 530 the [threatened and endangered] study would be less onerous than if we left the tower in the middle of the property,” Manchester business administrator Donna Markulic said. “So we are now in discussions with Pinelands on that issue. Hopefully this is just a minor issue that can be overcome because the need for more cell coverage in that area is paramount and frankly an issue of public safety.”
The new tower will blanket a 2-mile diameter with cell, blanketing Whiting, Toms River and Berkeley with coverage, although Manchester is focused on service for its residents.
Homeland Towers presented its plan to the township planning board back in January as a courtesy, Fusaro said. With all the permits needed, it will be at least a year before the tower is built.
As of now, Verizon has signed on to use the tower. Homeland is courting other cellphone service providers to install antennas as well.