BELMAR — An ordinance changing parts of the borough’s code to regulate the construction of small cell wireless facilities in the public right-of-way was introduced for first reading by the mayor and council Tuesday.
During the workshop portion of the meeting, Mayor Gerald Buccafusco expressed satisfaction with efforts to slow a Verizon plan to erect 5G towers along the Belmar beachfront.
“I’m much more optimistic tonight as I sit here…for three reasons,” the mayor said of those efforts. “There was an issue with the county right-of-way and whether or not the [5G] poles were going to be in the county right-of-way, and whether or not Verizon would have to go through county approvals to do that.”
“So they are obviously moving in that direction. What that does for us is it buys us time,” Mayor Buccafusco said. “…They probably have to start up again with the county to get the right-of-way agreement. As far as we know, they don’t have one at this point. They’re back to square one as far as that goes. That will give us time to regroup and strategize on how we’re going to move forward.”
Mayor Buccafusco also announced the hiring of a telecommunications expert and attorney named Peter Lupo, of Hoplite Communications, LLC, which passed on a consent resolution, 2023-133.
“We had talked about this almost from the start; that we need to kind of level the playing field because we had no expert on staff,” the mayor said. “And I think this will give us a tremendous boost when dealing with Verizon because now we’ll have someone that’s on their level who knows the law…[He will] be fighting for us if they [Verizon] come back to us regarding any poles.”
“The third thing—at [Peter Lupo’s] direction—that we’ve done: he suggested that we revamp…two sections of ordinances, Chapter 43 and 43A, which talk about small cell wireless facilities. He reviewed them and said we really just need to get rid of them. We’re going to institute a new section 43 which is geared to protect us more and give more flexibility when we deal with these telecommunication companies…I’m very optimistic.” he said, also mentioning that they have not heard anything from Verizon since the last council meeting.
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