Cell Antenna Battle to Resume Next Year

Yvan Joseph, radio frequency engineer for AT&T Credits: TAP Chatham
NJ American Water tower located behind residence at 63 Buxton Road Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - The battle lines have been draw between AT&T and the residents in the area of Buxton Road and Huron Drive.

AT&T wants to place 12 cell antennas on the NJ American Water tower located behind 63 Buxton Road because it will give the cell phone company the greatest coverage in the area. Home owners in the area don't want the antennas placed in their neighborhood and believe AT&T should find another site that is not in a residential setting.

The AT&T application was the fourth case heard on Thursday at the Board of Adjustment meeting and it took up most of the time until the meeting was adjourned at 11 p.m., without any decision. The next time the parties will be together is Jan. 16 at the next scheduled board meeting.

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Before the Board of Adjustment hearing began, board chairman Tony Vivona warned everyone that the variances being requested would be decided on the facts.

"We're all on the same team here," Vivona said. "The decision can't go on speculation. It has to go on the physical proofs that the defense is going to put on and the other team is going to put on. That's what we're going to base our decision on."

Judy Fairweather, lawyer for AT&T, was still presenting her first expert witness when the meeting ended and Yvan Joseph, the radio frequency engineer, will still be on the spot when the meeting resumes. Joseph presented an overlay of the coverage AT&T would get for its customers with the installation of the antennas on the water tower.

Joseph pointed out that the water tower location would give the best coverage because it is on a ridge that provides elevation of 580 feet. Robert F. Simon, lawyer for Brad and Katie Weisgerber, and other residents urged the company to consider other sites since New Providence and Summit would benefit more from the antennas than the residents of the Buxton Road neighborhood.

Simon got some assistance from Ola Lotfy of Kincaid Lane, who provided a question that could not be answered by AT&T.

"I basically wanted them to provide propagation maps for alternative locations in areas where they are really targeting, the white spots on the map, in New Providence and Summit," Lofty said. "Industrial locations or areas that are less residential, where they can build towers that would accomplish their goals while mitigating the effect on home owners in a residential area."

The board agreed and AT&T will return with the propagation maps for other possible sites.


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