POINT PLEASANT BEACH — An ordinance aimed at giving borough officials some leverage over deployment of 5G technology in Point Pleasant Beach is scheduled for a May 4 public hearing.
Fifth-generation wireless networking technology will improve wireless connection and accessibility through faster networking speeds, according to Verizon. Mayor Paul Kanitra said the company has approached the borough and is expected to submit an application for placement of 5G nodes.
The 5G nodes transfer signals between one another to create a network. They have a limited range, however, resulting in the need for large numbers of nodes in order to deliver the coverage promised.
In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] passed sweeping deregulations regarding the deployment of 5G technology that limits control of deployment of the nodes for local municipalities.
The issue has been disputed in local municipalities, including Lavallette, where residents have objected to the nodes’ deployment because of their large numbers and perceived health concerns.
The local ordinance, introduced by the borough council on April 20, would give Point Pleasant Beach some negotiating leverage in the likely 5G rollout.
“What essentially happens is, if we do not have a set of criteria, design criteria, limitations, things along those lines, they are legally allowed … to come in and dictate where they can go and the prevalence of where these things go,” Mayor Kanitra said.
The mayor said the borough has a truncated timeline with the possibility of a rollout application.
“And if an application is submitted before we pass this ordinance, it defaults to the existing stuff that we have on the books, which is nothing,” he said.
“This is not saying that we’re bringing things in or anything along those lines, but we are with this going to consolidate, give us the ability to say we’re going to cut down on the prevalence if they do come.”
The ordinance gives the borough some say in where nodes are deployed, their distance between one another, as well as the aesthetics involved in placement.
The borough discussed 5G at a meeting in May of 2020, with public commentary both for and against the deployment of the technology in Point Beach. The discussion included an airing of concerns expressed by some residents as the result of unproven cancer scares and conspiracy theories about 5G technology proliferating in social media.
Resident Dora Gourley said the community was “deeply concerned” about the prospect of 5G cell service antennas “being installed on existing and new utility poles in the public right of way, where antennas will be located 15 to 20 feet from our homes, schools and business and placed on every third pole throughout the town” and creating what she believes will be a health risk.
“People are trying to avoid being exposed to more radiation and serious health issues,” said Ms. Gourley. “The telecommunication industry’s unfounded profit motive should never outweigh local authorities and jurisdictions.”
“We’re not against technology. We really aren’t,” she said. “We just want to make sure it’s proven to be safe.”
Beach resident Debbie Kogan said, “I honestly don’t think there have been any studies done to test the safety to our children, to the environment and to our town in general.”
Addressing those concerns during the 2020 meeting, Councilman Bob Santanello said “the supposed 5G health connection” came from “uninformed people on the internet trying to link things that are not connected.”
“The World Health Organization, which is the gold standard, specifically refers to it on its website with regard to overall RO-frequency-related health matters,” he said. “They conclude that health-related concerns from 5G are not a threat.”
On April 20, Councilman Santanello voted to introduce the ordinance, “I do believe we need 5G” and adding, “I think the whole cancer thing is just crazy wacko silly stuff.”
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