East Newark joins in antenna fray

Borough wants towers out of residential areas

Thursday, January 16, 2003

By Rose Duger
Kearny Journal correspondent

EAST NEWARK - Local officials have wasted no time in moving forward with plans to restrict the locations of cell phone antennas within East Newark.

At a council meeting last week, officials introduced an ordinance that would force telecommunications firms to first consider placing the antennas in the industrial area of East Newark along Passaic Avenue before installing them in the borough's residential area.

Just last month, officials approved a resolution that placed a temporary moratorium on cell antenna applications in East Newark.  At the time, Mayor Joseph R. Smith said the moratorium would not be lifted until officials could adopt an ordinance restricting the antennas in residential areas.

The actions result from an application currently before the Zoning Board in nearby Harrison by Nextel Corporation to install 12 antennas and equipment at 508 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. The site is within several hundred feet of the East Newark Elementary School, which has raised concern among local parents who are worried about the health effects of the antennas.

Harrison residents have also protested Nextel's application, and the Zoning Board there has opted to postpone its decision until Wednesday.

"Everyone is waiting for the next hearing in Harrison to see if action will be taken," said Smith.

The East Newark ordinance will closely resemble one adopted two months ago in Kearny, which also faced protests from residents about applications from AT&T Wireless and OmniPoint to install 12 wireless antennas on a Beech Street apartment complex.

The only change in the East Newark ordinance will be the designations of industrial zones and residential areas,  according to borough attorney Neil Marotta, who said he has drafted similar ordinances for several municipalities.

"This ordinance will be basically the same as Kearny's, except for the districts. Kearny has more districts," Marotta said.

Kearny's ordinance requires telecommunications companies to provide "substantial evidence" that the proposed location of antennas and any supporting equipment "have been planned to result in the lowest number of tower locations within the town and the least possible impact on community aesthetics."

Under the ordinance, companies must first consider placing the antennas on existing towers or buildings in South Kearny, the town's principle industrial area, before applying for the sites to be located in the residential "uplands" section of town.

Copyright 2003 Kearny Journal


Extracted from:

Cell Phone Antennas seem to be everywhere.  But are they ...
Too Close for Comfort?

by: Angela Baidone, Journal staff writer

Jersey Journal, Monday January 13, 2003


'Legal Hurdles

The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a massive volume of materials compiled to set standards for complex deregulation laws.  But deep within its pages, in section 704, is a clause about the positioning of cell phone towers that is creating a planning and zoning nightmare -- and perhaps a public health problem, according to some.  Section 704 states that although communities have authority over the general placement, construction, and modification of towers, they cannot ban them outright.  Nor can they unreasonably discriminate among providers or set zoning regulations based on "the environmental effects of radio-frequency emissions, to the extent that such facilities comply with the FCC regulations concerning such emissions."  As a result, zoning officials today are caught in a bind with regard to the antennas.  Legally, they can't refuse them.  They can ask questions or request that additional research findings be presented, but any community that tries to challenge the safety of cellular towers based on the "environmental" effects of radio-frequency emissions can possibly end up in federal court.  And the debate may not be settled anytime soon.  The telecommunications industry has tremendous influence.  The scientific community is divided regarding safety, and the science itself -- bioelectromagnetics -- is dense and complex.'


'Few studies on long-term exposure

Non-ionizing radiation -- emitted by power lines, radios, TVs, cellular phones, microwave ovens, and many other sources -- have been assumed to be harmless when used for telecommunications.  However, relatively few extensive RF studies, simulating long-term exposure to cellular RF energy, exists.  Consumers point out that those who use cell phones are engaging in voluntary exposures if there is, in fact, a risk.  But those who live near the towers are being forced into involuntary exposures, they say.'