By Liz Sheehan |
SEA BRIGHT – Construction of a unique cell tower for this beachfront town, designed to look like a lifeguard station and flagpole, is expected to be begin soon.
Work was scheduled to start Sept. 19, but predictions of high winds from Hurricane Jose off the east coast have caused delays.
Construction on the new cell tower will begin “any day,” said Frank Lawrence, administrative assistant for special projects for the borough, when asked on Tuesday. The design of the tower will help it blend in to the beachfront area surrounding it.
The plan to place a cell tower in the borough has traveled a long and bumpy road over many years, before its approval in 2014 by the Borough Council.
When the tower was first discussed, some borough residents were opposed to placing it in the beach parking lot area and the project stalled, Mayor Dina Long said Tuesday.
Verizon Wireless, she said, was then thought to be negotiating to place the tower on private property in the town.
Long said the Borough council then approved putting the tower in the parking lot east of the Borough Hall, where a temporary Verizon tower stands. Verizon is work- ing with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for approvals for the tower, she added.
Although there are some residents who live near the new tower site who have raised questions about the possibility of health effects and safety concerns, Long said Verizon provided information saying the tower was safe.
Lawrence said there was a need for the tower in the town especially in the summer with the influx of cars and boats trying to get data, in addition to more cell phones from visitors and summer residents.
Councilman Brian Kelly said Tuesday that Verizon would pay for the construction of the tower. The rental revenue for the borough would be $20,000 annually from each carrier that chooses to rent space on the tower, he said.
He said he expected construction of the tower to be completed by December.
Lawrence said Verizon would pay $35,000 a year to use the tower with a three percent escalation fee.
As Sea Bright approaches the end of its years long process of installing a cell tower, Little Silver continues to seek improvements to the 95-foot cell tower installed by Verizon in May.
After strong objections from residents to that tower, and the formation of the Little Silver Against the Cell Tower (Little Silver ACT) group, Little Silver Borough Council hired an attorney, Kevin N. Starkey, to deal with the tower matters.
Little Silver ACT is concerned about possible negative health effects on their children because the tower is located less than 500 feet from Markham Place School; they also worry it will decrease property value.
At a council meeting last month, Starkey said Verizon declined to move the tower.
This article was first published in the Sept. 21-28, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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