Temporary cell tower plans raise comments, concerns

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(MARK R. SULLIVAN/THE OCEAN STAR)

BAY HEAD — Borough council on Monday tabled a vote on the approval of the contract for the placement of a temporary cellular antenna, after a four-hour long meeting featuring a slew of questions, comments and concerns raised by community members attending online and by phone.

The decision comes as New Jersey American Water plans to decommission the Bay Head water tower in the near future, causing officials to look into ways to ensure the borough’s cellular coverage is not diminished, as providers Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile must remove their antennas and equipment.

On the agenda Monday was Resolution 2020-139, “awarding contracts for lease of real property for the operation of temporary wireless communication antennas and related facilities at Bay Head Borough Municipal Complex to New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC, Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile Northeast, LLC.” Prior to the council meeting however, the agenda was amended with a note that resolution would not be voted on that evening.

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Ordinance 2020-14, “authorizing a lease of a portion of the Bay Head Municipal Complex for the installation and operation of temporary wireless communications tower[s] and appurtenances,” was also expected to be voted on Nov. 2, but the ordinance was tabled until the council’s Dec. 7 meeting.

“We have all read the emails out there and we have listened to you and … [tonight] we are going to have a public discussion about this ordinance and listen to the experts explain the process and how we got to where we are today,” Mayor William Curtis said.

“It is definitely not for the lack of work put in by council. Many of the emails felt that the council has done very little, but our work has been going on since the spring of 2019. One thing that we did not do very well was keep the public informed every time we had action items and for that I take full responsibility. However, that is in the past. We got your collective message and will move forward with some of your suggestions.”

With the ordinance tabled until next month, Mayor Curtis explained some of the goals the governing body has for the days ahead.

“What are we going to do, you may ask, during these 35 days that we have? Starting tomorrow, and actually we put some wheels in motion today, we will, and this is after reading your emails and listening to you, we are going to look to renegotiate or clarify the contract with the successful bidders for the temporary site,” he said.

“We are going to affirm or refute the best site for the temporary tower and we will begin to establish a task force to determine the best site and structure for a permanent site or sites. It is the permanent site we need to focus on. The quicker that can be built the sooner the temporary site goes away.”

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