CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Township Board of Adjustment voted, 4-3, Thursday night to deny the application by Verizon Wireless that would allow for cell antennas to be placed on a PSE&G eletrical tower on Pine Street.
During discussion before the vote was taken, board chairman Tony Vivona (see video) made it clear that he would welcome Verizon building a permanent, taller tower behind Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Shunpike Road.
The temporary tower behind Gloria Dei had been used by AT&T, which is moving to a permanent location on a PSE&G electrical tower off of Shunpike.
Voting to deny the variances needed to place the cell antennas in the residential neighborhood on Pine Street were: Vivona, Jon Weston, Tina Romano and Greg Borsinger.
Borsinger asserted that he did not believe that "due diligence was done" by Verizon in finding another suitable spot, such as the Gloria Dei location, which already had been approved by the board to temporary use.
Voting against denying the application were Rick Williams, Michael Hyland and John C. Hurring Jr.
Williams expressed frustration that it was a no-win situation for Chatham Township, which has faced extended legal battles after a similar decision to deny variances for cell antennas in a residential neighborhood.
"If we turn this down, we will lose (in court)," Williams said. "This is very hard. I understand that opposition is strong in the neighborhood, but we will lose if this goes to appeal."
In October of 2014, the Chatham Township Board of Adjustment denied AT&T's variance application to attach cell antennas to the NJ American Water Tower on Buxton Road. The township initially won judgement that its denial was appropriate when AT&T took it to Morris County Superior Court. But the same judge later reversed himself and the case is still in litigation in Appellate Court.
Frank Ferraro, attorney for Verizon, declined to comment on whether Verizon will appeal the decision by the board. Verizon has 45 days to make its appeal.
Frank Ferraro, Verizon attorney, makes his summation before the vote on Thursday
Board member Jon Weston lists his reservations about Verizon's plan before the vote