Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 12
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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Cell Tower on Hold as Township Hall Eyes Alternatives

Matthew Hersh

Just over a week after a contingent of residents descended on Township Hall to express concerns over a proposal to place a cellular radio tower on municipally-owned land in the northwestern portion of Princeton Township, municipal officials said Monday that the town would now seek an alternate solution for a known dead spot in police radio functions there.

The Princeton Township Police Department has long identified that area bordering Montgomery Township as a radio signal dead zone for patrols and emergency services, but as of Monday, the prospect of a cell tower appears to be on hold.

Township Administrator James Pascale said in an interview Monday that Township Committee would likely entertain a resolution at its March 24 meeting that, if passed, would allow the town to engage a police communications expert to help solve the problem.

“Right now, we’re looking at other alternatives,” Mr. Pascale said, adding that while the Township had not received any formal bids from contractors interested in building a cell tower, cell companies had approached the municipality saying that the problem “could go away” with the construction of a tower.

In light of public concern, and the fact that the Township has identified other possible solutions, any bids for a tower would be cancelled by way of a resolution, also slated for March 24. Mr. Pascale could not elaborate on the alternate solutions.

At the March 10 Township Committee meeting, residents primarily from the Heather Lane area located near Cherry Valley Road and Great Road worried about the bid process, and that the public had not been sufficiently consulted prior to the cell tower project going out to bid. Committee members at that meeting said that the Township would not be under any obligation to accept potential bids, but that putting the project out to bid would help to assess the need for a cell tower.

The land, which was donated to the Township by a builder years ago, is mostly wetland, and is predominantly undevelopable. There is some upland that would allow for a tower, but at the March 10 meeting, Committeeman Chad Goerner worried that the land was on the municipal open space roster, and encouraged the Township to explore other options.

Mr. Pascale had yet to place a dollar amount on the professional services agreement to hire a police communications consultant, saying that the police department would supply the cost to Township administration this week.

David Gray, a Heather Lane resident who spoke on behalf of residents at the March 10 meeting, said Monday that he was “very grateful to the Township Committee members for slowing the process down and getting neighbors involved.”

At that meeting, residents expressed concern about the potential impact on property values and whether a smaller tower could solve the problem. In light of possible alternate solutions, a requested neighborhood meeting slated for April 8 has been postponed until further notice, Mr. Pascale said.

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