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Residents savor cell-tower victory
USA Created: 15 Nov 2009
Fourteen months after beginning their fight against a proposed cell phone tower in their neighborhood, residents tasted victory Thursday night.

Seven members of the township's Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously voted Thursday to deny a request from Omnipoint Communications, Inc., for a use variance. The variance would have allowed the company to site a 120-foot cell phone tower at 169 Robertsville Road, which is zoned for residential use.

The company a subsidiary of T-Mobile wanted the tower to address a coverage gap in the area, representatives have said.

From the start, board chairman Edward McCloskey said he had the impression that Omnipoint's experts did a poor job of finding the best location for the tower.

Board members overwhelmingly cited deficiencies in the site acquisition process as a factor in their denial. In particular, Omnipoint was criticized for not adequately pursuing a possible siting at the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, located on East Freehold Road.

The attorney representing Omnipoint, James K. Pryor, declined to comment after the vote.

Residents, meanwhile, quietly celebrated Thursday, exchanging hugs and big smiles as they contemplated their win.

"I'm just elated that the township did the right thing and maintained the beauty of our neighborhood," said Ron Saputo, one of about 20 objectors who hired attorney Edward Liston to argue their case before the board.

Saputo and his neighbors will pay between $8,000 and $10,000 for Liston's efforts, Saputo estimated. That's on top of the hours of hearings opponents have sat through since September 2008, and the time and energy expended by various residents to stir up opposition to Omnipoint's application.

"It was a community effort," said resident Manoj Jain. "I think the township did a great thing."
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Source: Asbury Park Press, KIM PREDHAM, 13 Nov 2009

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