An application for a minor site plan variance was approved by the Washington Township Planning Board at its meeting on Wednesday, May 25 at the Washington Township Municipal Building.
Nextel of New York, a division of Sprint-Nextel, completed its application to build a cellular antenna and equipment shelter near a soon-to-be-built Verizon Communications monopole, situated behind the Washington Township Police Department Headquarters on East Springtown Road.
Once the plan is underway, Nextel will be placing its 12-foot antennas just ten feet below similar, already-existing Verizon equipment, according to project engineer Frank Colasurdo. The equipment shelter, which will be located next to the monopole on its north side, will measure 18 feet by 13 feet, 6 inches, and will stand 14 feet tall.
Mike Smith, a radiofrequency expert who is working on the project, claims that the site modification needs to be made so Sprint-Nextel will be able to reliably serve more of its customers that live on Schooley’s Mountain. While terrain features in some spots will make any reliable mobile service difficult, Smith expects reliable coverage to expand to areas that currently do not have what Sprint-Nextel considers to be “reliable.”
The new antenna is also not expected to interfere with the equipment of Verizon or any other mobile service carrier. Perhaps even more important to the residents of Washington Township, however, is the fact that the antenna should not interfere with municipal communications equipment.
Mark Harris, another radiofrequency expert on the project, stated at Wednesday night’s meeting that the upgrade will only generate, at the most, 3.661 percent of the maximum exposure limit for municipal equipment. This is a number that fluctuates, depending on factors such as trees and other surrounding terrain items, nearby reflective properties, and even the height of the person carrying municipal equipment.
Although there is currently no date set for the start of construction on the project, Colasurdo estimated that the construction of the antenna and equipment shelter would be completed after about three months.