Hearing on 140-foot cell tower at UCC delayed

A proposed 140-foot cell tower would be located among a grove of trees just to the west of the William Miller Sperry Observatory on the campus of Union County College in Cranford.

CRANFORD, NJ — A hearing to consider whether three wireless mobile phone companies can erect a 140-foot cell tower on the rear western side of the Union County College campus was postponed July 8 because a group of residents opposed to the structure said it was not prepared.

Cranford Zoning Board of Adjustment Chairman Richard Marotta made the announcement shortly after the start of the session to a packed meeting room after hearing from both sides’ attorneys.

Greg Meese, attorney for Verizon Wireless, PCS and T-Mobile, appeared before the board to suggest the delay after receiving a letter earlier in the day from attorney Rob Simon, who represents Union County Residents United.
Meese said the letter stated that, due to the Independence Day holiday and township offices being closed July 5, Simon’s clients felt they did not have adequate time to prepare for the hearing. He added that his clients were amenable to delay until the next scheduled meeting of the board on Aug. 12, or a special meeting date.

“We don’t want to have any perception out there that we’re trying to rush if the people don’t have enough time,” Meese told the board. “We’re here to give Mr. Simon and his clients as much time as they need to prepare.”

Meese added that the letter indicated Simon had a schedule conflict with the Aug. 12 date. Simon also appeared before the board briefly to confirm he had written the letter and asked for a special meeting date.

“It can be after the Aug. 12 meeting or even before the Aug. 12 meeting; we’re not trying to hold up the applicant, certainly,” Simon said. “We just ask that my office be consulted so that we can arrive at a date that’s mutually convenient for all.”
Zoning Board attorney Mark Rothman cautioned the board that scheduling a special meeting could be problematic in assuring that a quorum of members would be available on any date during the remaining summer months.

Marotta informed Meese that his client would have to make all proper notifications again once the new date was set.
The cell tower, which would be located a short distance to the west of the William Miller Sperry Observatory, needs several variances from the local land use law. The issue came to light more than a year ago when college officials approved a two-phase plan, justifying the cell tower for security reasons by publicly stating it was needed to improve reception in and around the campus.

Since then, several residents have appeared at local council and county freeholder board meetings to seek help in defeating the proposal.

The Cranford Zoning Board would have to OK variances for height as the maximum allowed for the area is 70 feet; setback from the closest property line as the pole would be at 112 feet, 9 inches, well short of the 175 feet required; and setback from the nearest residence, as the tower would be only 229 feet, 7 inches away although 420 feet is mandated
Simon identified the four trustees of Union County Residents United, three of which live on Colby Lane in the neighborhood adjacent to the UCC campus on the western side just to the south of where the tower would be erected.