Law & Justice

Judge Reverses Ruling; Allows AT&T Cell Antennas on Chatham Township's Buxton Water Tower

Judy Fairweather, AT&T attorney, won a favorable ruling when Judge Minkowitz reconsidered his original ruling Credits: TAP Chatham
Attorney Judy Fairweather, representing AT&T, and Chatham board of adjustment attorney Steve Shaw before court appearance in October, 2015 Credits: TAP Chatham
Haylee Messing, Buxton Road resident, is against allowing the variances in her residential neighborhood Credits: TAP Chatham
The view from an adjacent yard of the NJ American Water Tower on Buxton Road in Chatham Township Credits: TAP Chatham
NJ American Water Tower on Buxton Road in Chatham Township Credits: TAP Chatham

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Morris County Superior Court Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz vacated his November ruling in favor of Chatham Township and in his "reconsideration" of the case granted New Cingular Wireless (AT&T)'s request for variances that will allow for the installation of cell antennas on the water tower located on Buxton Road in Chatham Township.

The Chatham Township Zoning Board of Adjustment was the defendant in the case. In the 23-page opinion, Judge Minkowitz said that 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."

According to Chatham Township's board of adjustment attorney, Stephen H. Shaw, the board will discuss its appellate court options to the ruling during executive session of its work meeting on Feb. 10.

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Judge Minkowitz originally ruled that the Chatham Township Board of Adjustment had been within its rights to deny the variances sought by AT&T. At the time of his ruling in November of 2015, he also expressed concerns about the case, leaving open a possible appeal by the plaintiff, AT&T.

AT&T first appealed the decision after the board of adjustment had voted 6-1 in 2014 to deny the variances sought to install the cell antennas in the residential neighborhood.

"Why should a corporate entity receive exceptions to our zoning laws that my tax paying neighbors don’t have?," Haylee Messing, Buxton Road resident, said. "We should not allow big money to waltz into our town and spin their interpretations of rulings so that they can push an agenda that is counterproductive to the character of our town, just because it suits them.
"For nearly 30 years I have called this town home, never imagining that a corporate entity could override my rights to live in a commercial free residential zone. Understand, this fight is not going to prevent them from improving their cell coverage. AT&T has an alternative solution that, while it may be less convenient for them, complies with our master plan."


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