Business & Finance

Chatham Township Zoning Board Votes Against Appeal of Cell Antennas Ruling to NJ Supreme Court

9aaf479c1ca09d7d8574_IMG_2533__1_.JPG
Stephen H. Shaw, zoning board attorney, reads into the record his summary and recommendation on the legal case against AT&T Credits: TAP Chatham
61d42e4dd9f9da36c741_best_a04accbb7ca2675ffc7b_imgres.jpg
The NJ American Water Company tower on Buxton Road, where AT&T will be attaching cell antennas Credits: TAP Chatham
fe21233cd23aa1f8c60e_IMG_2532.JPG
Stephen H. Shaw, zoning board attorney, and Tony Vivona, board chairman Credits: TAP Chatham
5dba425502822e9403fe_IMG_2535.JPG
Zoning board of adjustment board member Jon Weston decried the cookie-cutter legal approach that AT&T took in making its application Credits: TAP Chatham
68b421e58739bba2a193_DSCN7372.JPG
Buxton Road area residents Haylee Messing, left, and Catherine Porter listen at the zoning board special meeting on Tuesday night Credits: TAP Chatham
9aaf479c1ca09d7d8574_IMG_2533__1_.JPG

CHATHAM, NJ - The fight to keep AT&T from attaching cell antennas to the NJ American Water Tower behind 63 Buxton Road in Chatham Township ended on Tuesday night when the zoning board of adjustment voted against an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The zoning board of adjustment voted, 5-0, at its special meeting to end the appeal process on the recommendation of Stephen H. Shaw, board attorney.

"All of the legal principles, which were the basis of the court's decision, are existing Supreme Court decisions or long-standing appellate decisions," Shaw said. "As a result there are no new public issues for the Supreme Court to review."

Sign Up for E-News

The legal battle began after the zoning board of adjustment voted, 6-1, on Oct. 16, 2014, to deny the application for variances by AT&T to place the cell antennas in a residential neighborhood.

AT&T appealed the decision in Morris County Superior Court and Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz ruled in favor of the Chatham Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, stating it had the right to deny AT&T's application for a variance in an Oct. 27, 2015 ruling.

But in February of 2016, the judge reversed his decision and ruled that the zoning board had not provided "sufficient evidence on record" to deny the variances and concluded that the board's denial was "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable." 

The Chatham Township Zoning Board of Adjustment appealed the decision, with the financial backing of Buxton Road area residents, and argued the case on May 9, 2017, in the Appellate Division of Superior Court. The case was ruled in favor of the plaintiff - AT&T - on Aug. 16.

Stephen H. Shaw, township zoning board of adjustment attorney, sums up the appellate ruling and reads into the record his recommendation to end the appeal process

One of the details in the case that went against the Chatham Township board was the testimony of appraiser Mark Tinder, who testified for AT&T that property values would not be hurt by placing the cell antennas in the residential neighborhood. Tinder's testimony was countered by local realtor Nancy Cook.

Judge Minkowitz said in his ruling that Tinder's testimony was rejected because of what was termed anecdotal evidence given by Cook. Chatham Township would have had a stronger case if it had presented its own appraisal witness to counter Tinder.

"I feel like we got bullied into this," Tony Vivona, chairman of the zoning board, said.

Zoning board member Jon Weston stated that he felt that it was an uphill battle all the way in fighting the cell company because of the "cookie cutter" approach in which the application was brought forward. Weston noted that the applicants have done this so many times that they were merely "checking the boxes" on what was needed for approval.

Zoning board chairman Tony Vivona said the board put a limitation on what the cell companies put up in Chatham Township

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Chatham

A Week at the Library of The Chathams Monday, February 19 – Sunday, February 25, 2018

PROGRAMS AND EVENTS

By Galina Natenzon

Friends of the Library are continuing their book collection in preparation for Annual Book Sale.  Kids are off from school on Monday for Presidents’ Day – bring them to the library!  We have plenty for them to do.  For adults, Professor Licklider’s second lecture on North Korea will take place on Tuesday.  The ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...

#NoMore

February 20, 2018

To the Editor,

I told my daughter I needed to write about gun violence. Know what she told me? “Mom, be sure you’re not too polarizing. People won’t listen.” She’s right. At age eleven she’s figured out that we adults need to be reminded how to speak to one another in order to fix a problem. But I have hope and belief that we can fix that discourse in our ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Adults Who Interact With Teens Offered Free Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

February 23, 2018

With teenage suicide rates on an upswing, a barrage of tragedies in the news, and the heightened pressures of adolescence in a media-frenzied world, it’s more important than ever for caring adults to know how to intervene effectively.

Morris County again this year is funding Youth Mental Health First Aid training through NewBridge Services for adults who regularly interact with children ...