Location of cell tower a NIMBY issue


Staff Writer

FAIR HAVEN — Reception for cell phones in the borough is one step closer to getting better.

Councilman Thomas Gilmour said at last Monday’s Borough Council meeting that the planning board has made recommendations for the placement of the much anticipated and debated cell tower.

“They narrowed it down to three locations,” said Gilmour, “and a third that the council recommended.”

The three locations are all within the area of Fair Haven Fields, near the Fair Haven Gardens.

One of the options is close to Ridge Road, though Gilmour said he would prefer to look at a different space.

“It’s the ugliest thing we could do to Ridge Road,” he said.

The positive aspect of this option, according to Gilmour, would be that no vegetation would have to be removed to make room for the tower.

The second option would put the tower in the tree line next to the driveway leading into the parking lot of the United Methodist Church on Ridge Road.

Rev. Kathleen Stone of the church was present at the meeting and said that, although she is in favor of a cell tower since she has gotten no reception since she moved to the town, she is opposed to the placement of the tower at that location.

“I think it’s the ugliest thing you could do to the United Methodist Church,” she said. “I don’t think you would want it in your front yard.”

This option would mean the removal of some trees and other vegetation, according to Gilmour.

“This is my preference,” said Gilmour, “because it is as hidden as it could possibly be.”

The third option is in the back corner near the trail head leading to the field.

This is an open part of the field with garden plots screened in on the north and east sides.

The council will submit all three options to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres Program, which has veto power over projects on the lands it protects from development, such as Fair Haven Fields.

After permission is granted from the DEP, the council will go out to public bid for the tower, getting comparative cost estimates for having a cell phone service provider build and maintain the tower or having the borough build and maintain the tower itself.

The height of the tower will depend on where the tower is placed, and that will affect the cost, Gilmour said.

The option is still on the table of having the cell tower combined with the proposed lighting for Fair Haven Fields, but at this point, the council is keeping those issues separate, according to Borough Administrator Julie Keizer.