JERSEY CITY, NJ - Concerns about the more powerful telecommunication upgrades called “5G”, as well as issues with the location and the types of poles on which the equipment is being installed, may result in the Jersey City council refusing to adopt an ordinance continuing the work.
The ordinance, initially introduced under some protest at the April 22 meeting of the legislative body, authorizes Cross River Fiber to install high capacity fiber optic cable and other equipment for mobile telecommunication on existing utility poles, and to install new utility poles within certain public rights of way.
However, according to Jersey City's Business Administrator, Brian Platt, the council has very little power to control the installation since most of the approvals come from the federal government. “We’re very limited in what we do,” he said. “Most of what these companies do are regulated by the FCC.”
5G is a much more powerful technology allowing for increased cellular phone connections as well as other communication network improvements. While theories over it causing cancer, and even linking to the spread of COVID-19, have been largely discredited, a number of local constituents continue to sound the alarm.
“Some people are concerned about whether 5G is safe,” Councilwoman Denise Ridley said, adding she has received communication from residents alarmed about the new technology. Federal officials who regulate the technology have approved 5G technology on the presumption that it is safe, Platt said.
“We’re very limited in what the city can impose,” Platt said, puncuating his previous point.
In addition to Ridley, who suggested that some towns, including Little Silver, have restricted the location of poles, Councilmembers Rolando Lavarro, Daniel Rivera, and James Solomon each expressed their own concerns over the ordinance, saying they would like to see restrictions imposed like in other communities around the state.
Solomon said he is concerned about the location of these installations, and the polls being used.
“When we originally approved this, Verizon told us the polls would fit into historic areas of the city,” Solomon said. “As it turns out, this isn’t true and the polls they have installed so far look out of place.”
He also said Verizon fails to notify the city or residents when they are going to install these polls. “We need to review the designs and make sure we get notified where and when they are going to be installed.”
Councilman Richard Boggiano said in some cases the contractor hired for the installation marked the center of the sidewalk, while Councilman Jermain Robinson said that though he has not received a lot of feedback from residents he intends to investigate the matter more before the May 6 meeting.
“We’ve discussed this at length several times about how we can regulate this, what restrictions we can place,” said Lavarro. “We were told we have no options.”
Council President Joyce Watterman offered her own prediction on the matter when she concluded that “we all have concerns and if they are not addressed this ordinance will not likely pass.”
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