Tower “Monstrosity” Proposed For Cranford College Campus

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A 130-foot Verizon tower set to go up on the Union County College campus in Cranford, New Jersey has led a group of local residents to band together in resistance to it, Union News Daily reported.

The tower plan was approved on June 26, for a five-year term with four optional five-year renewals, and it will house four carriers. Verizon will pay UCC an annual fee of $34,800 with a two percent yearly increase, and a 50 percent co-locator fee. The agreement with Verizon includes plans for an antenna system to go in prior to the tower build, and it will equip the central campus buildings with 95 percent coverage. The tower site is proposed to be within a half-mile of Brookside Place Elementary School, 1,000 feet of a residential area, and within only 236 feet of some of those homes.

A group of residents brought their concerns to the Union County Freeholders, highlighting commonplace reasons for tower resistance, such as a feared decrease in local property values and potential health risks associated with electromagnetic radiation. According to Union News Daily, resident Julie Exarhakos called the coming tower “a monstrosity.” Many Cranford locals believe the college has primarily financial interest in the tower, claiming they do not experience poor cell reception in the area.

Public Safety Director for UCC, Joe Hines, said the campus’ poor cell reception is a safety risk to students, and the tower would make the campus and surrounding areas safer. Hines brought up a recent example from November 7, when 12 people were shot and killed in Thousand Oaks, California at a local bar filled with college students. Hines also discussed how the poor coverage leaves the school unable to appropriately abide by the Clery Act, which requires schools to inform campus and nearby residents of safety concerns. Hines said urgent messages sent out to students and residents may not even reach them, and in past emergency situations, they have not.

The Union County Freeholders are not required to consider the residents’ concerns, and Chairman Sergio Granados said the Union County College “has the final say.” The Freeholders contribute considerably to the college, including a 2015-2016 total donation of over $14 million. The Cranford Township Committee held a meeting on November 4, to discuss future changes to local land regulations for cell towers. Cranford plans to demand new applicants detail their needs for equipment use and site locations, and that they have an expert approve the “structural integrity” of a new tower. According to Cranford zoning officer Ronald Johnson, as of November 9, Verizon has yet to submit their application for a cell tower.

November 28, 2018

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