BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater Township Council and T-Mobile have settled litigation that began several years ago after the zoning board denied an application to build a cell tower at the Green Knoll Volunteer Fire Company.
The settlement, which was approved by the township at Monday's council meeting, allows T-Mobile to build a tower at the library instead.
“It is not a perfect settlement, but it is superior to the alternative,” Councilman Matthew Moench said. "The quality of life to residents if we lose would be significant."
In the initial application, T-Mobile was looking to build a 125-foot cell tower at the Green Knoll Fire Company, on North Bridge Street. In May 2012, the board of adjustment denied the application, and T-Mobile later filed suit, saying the board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.
According to the settlement, the township will amend the zoning code to allow a 150-foot tall monopole personal wireless facility at the library, on Vogt Drive. From there, the township will award a public bid to lease the land at the site for the construction of the monopole capable of collocating up to five wireless carries with external arrays of antennas, ground equipment and access.
The lease, the settlement says, will require an annual rent of no less than $25,000 per wireless carrier, with an annual increase of at least 3 percent, a term of five years with four renewal terms of five years each and the splitting of the rent between the winning bidder and the township.
Once T-Mobile, or another winning bidder, is named as the owner of the monopole, they will go before the planning board for application approval. If the planning board denies the application, T-Mobile can declare the settlement agreement be terminated and state that the library site is unavailable for the tower, thereby resuming the litigation.
In addition, T-Mobile has agreed that it will not apply for approval to construct a permanent tower facility within 2,500 feet of the Green Knoll Fire Company for a period of three years, and will not apply to construct one at the fire company for six years.
Although the settlement was approved, councilman Filipe Pedroso was the sole vote against.
“Although I feel the site is appropriate, I have had an issue with the height of the tower at 150 feet, I feel it is excessive,” he said. ”In this particular case, from all the reports I saw from T-Mobile, I was under the impression that 100 or so feet was sufficient to meet their needs.”
“I don’t feel the resolution fully mediates the negative impacts on the township,” he added.