CHATHAM, NJ - AT&T presented three expert witnesses in making their case for a variance that would allow the cell phone company to install 12 antennas on the water tower located on Buxton Road in the township on Thursday at the Board of Adjustment meeting.
The hearing will continue at the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Adjustment on March 20.
As requested by residents and the board, AT&T compiled propagation maps of other sites for the antennas in the area that might serve the company's quest to eliminate gaps in their coverage.
The conclusion by Yvan Joseph, AT&T frequency engineer, was that none of the sites would meet those goals. Because 63 Buxton Road is on top of a ridge, it is the highest site in the area. The other sites were lower and could not reach areas north of the ridge.
Yvan Joseph, AT&T frequency engineer, explains how the coverage is affected by other proposed sites
That analysis was backed up by the consultant for the board, Dr. Bruce Eisenstein.
"They have a gap in coverage and the difference is the coverage to the north of the Ridge, which you can't get from below," Eisenstein said. "What they're saying is true about it being the best site for coverage in that area. That doesn't mean it should be placed there. That's for the board to decide."
AT&T announced that it had made a bid to place antennas in Summit at 3 Constantine Place, which is near Summit's recycling center. That site will provide more gap coverage, but not north of the ridge.
AT&T attorney Judy Fairweather confirmed that AT&T has a co-location agreement with Verizon, the other bidder for the Constantine Place site. Either way, a mono pole will be built there and both companies will place antennas there. Whomever wins the bid will build the pole and have access to the highest spot, about 150 feet, for their antenna.
Yvan Joseph, AT&T frequency engineer, shows the difference in coverage from other sites
Ron Peterson, who worked at Bell Labs for 40 years and serves on a number of safety boards, testified that the antennas would measure 1.6 percent, well below the minimum safety standard.
Petersen noted that all scientific studies, internationally and the U.S., have so far concluded that there is no danger to the public in the radiation produced from cell antennas because it is infinitesimally low. Dr. Eisenstein agreed with Petersen's assessment that the cell antennas posed no danger to residents, even children.
Ron Petersen, who worked at Bell Labs for 40 years, testifies about safety of cell antennas
The other sites that AT&T explored were 3 Constantine Place in Summit; the water tower located on Longwood in Chatham Borough; Merck at 556 Morris Ave., Summit; two PSE&G sites on River Road, and Lucent Facility at 600 Mountain Ave., New Providence.
AT&T site manager, Tony Gualtieri, began his testimony on where and how the antennas would be placed on the tower. He will answer questions at the March 20 meeting. AT&T's planner will also testify at the next meeting.