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The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community
 

 

Cell Phone Towers in Abington

 

9-18- 08         At the 9-11-08 Board Meeting  - a company called Next G was awarded the right ( for $250  annually paid to the township? )  to use of the Verizon & Peco poles to erect  "microcell" sites.  These sites are smaller than the macrosite towers and have a shorter range & lower output than the large towers. The y are not meant to replace them, only to fill in areas that have  problems .  We entered into a 10 year agreement with  three 5 year extensions

    The units consist of a cylinder, made to look a bit  like the pole itself that could extend up to  four feet above the pole - then they might have an addition antennae which could extend and additional 6 feet - so they might extend up to ten feet above the pole.  ( Poles, I am told  could run as much as 120ft to 200 feet high )   They also would have an equipment box that would be located possibly 14 feet or so above ground.  Noise from the box, is not a factor, I am told.

   While the company would need to return to the Commissioners to request usage on additional poles, they apparently can add users without as formal a process .  Two or 3 additional users are the max that would be anticipated .   Questions about the output remain unanswered, except to the extent that the output will be below what the FCC allows  .  We have not yet learned the locations of the poles .

    Two years ago, unbeknownst to many who were interested in the issue , an ordinance passed regulating some of these issues . That ordinance can be found on www.abington.org  by choosing departments then code enforcment and  searching the codebook in Abington for Telecommunications - it passed 10-06.
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9-18-07 Septa would not grant the right of way - the issue is dead. T-Mobile drops their plans. See the Times Chronicle / Montgomery News article:

 http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18831046&BRD=1306&PAG=461&dept_id=187823&rfi=6

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5-1-07  We understand from some who have been in touch with  SEPTA asking about the  restoration of the Septa R8 Line that Septa may have  long range plans to restore that  line when their financial condition improves. It was questioned whether the Lorimor Tower would impede or affect this....... Preliminiary inquiries seem to indicate that not only might  SEPTA might have some future plans but that possibly  Bucks County Transportation Management Association may also  interested in restoring transit operations, and that the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission may also have endorsed its restoration. All of the townships in Bucks County are also in favor of restored train service, we are told. Should the line be restored, it will most likely be done in its entirety, some think, to help alleviate parking problems at Fox Chase. SEPTA has denied the townships in Bucks County permission to convert the line into a hiking trail in 2003. Can we assume  the same would apply in Montco ?

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4-18-07 Apparently the Lorimor tower passed  despite the dozens of esidents who came out to protest the tower  at Lorimor - they were granted the right to contruct the 150 foot monopole in the Septa right of way.It was passed 3-1  with several conditions regarding lighting and regarding input by the Shade tree Commission
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3-28-07 T-Mobile appealing VFW decision as pending park case decided
By: Mischa Aaron Arnosky, Staff Writer
03/28/2007
Reprinted with  permission from Montgomery Newspapers

It took 21 days for the Abington Zoning Hearing Board to shoot down a proposed T-Mobile (then Omnipoint) cell phone tower at the North Penn VFW last year on Jenkintown Road. Residents near another proposed cell tower adjacent to Lorimer Park are hoping for similar results.
Testimony ended March 20 regarding the proposed monopole to be placed in a SEPTA right-of-way near the park on the southern side of Moredon Road. T-Mobile Northeast, LLC is seeking variances with regard to height and frontage in the area, which is zoned R-1, for the 150-foot steel pole.
For reasons similar to the application at the VFW, T-Mobile said it needs a monopole there to fill the gap in coverage, which it said is not up to 98 percent. Though representatives from T-Mobile would not say what the cell phone provider's current coverage rate is, it suggested the tower is needed for those making calls from their vehicles, citing that 4,000 vehicles use that area per day.
As expected, the hearing was standing room only - filled with residents who vehemently opposed the pole ranging in reasons from a claimed reduction in property value to poor aesthetics. No resident spoke in favor of the proposed structure.
According to last year's application for the proposed 120-foot pole at the VFW site, more than 20 residents spoke in opposition of the structure and it was largely denied because of aesthetics.
"The board finds that granting the variances ... in this application would adversely affect the health, safety and welfare and would be out of character with the residential character of the community," read the "Opinion and Order of the Board" dated May 19, 2006.
The board also cited in the conclusion that T-Mobile didn't prove there was a gap in coverage in the Glenside/Ardsley area - failing to establish the hardship necessary for the variances in the application.
According to the zoning hearing board's decision, T-Mobile initially attempted to place a structure in the Rosemore Gardens apartment complex in the 200 block of Easton Road in Glenside. When that site was "not well received," T-Mobile ultimately withdrew its application and attempted to place its structure at the VFW site.
According to Abington Planning and Code Enforcement Director Lawrence Matteo, the zoning board's decision regarding the VFW site has been appealed by T-Mobile and is in the process of finding a court date.
There are no updates regarding the application on Moredon Road.
©Montgomery Newspapers 2007
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March 07  Reprinted with  permission from Montgomery Newspapers

As seen in the Times Chronicle

Residents oppose T-Mobile pole in park
By: Mischa Aaron Arnosky, Staff Writer
03/21/2007
Testimony closed Tuesday, but upset residents still had a lot to say regarding a decidedly unnatural structure proposed near Lorimer Park.
Dozens of residents vented their opposition to a proposed 150-foot-tall steel monopole proposed by T-Mobile Northeast, LLC, to be placed in a right-of-way used by SEPTA, which is adjacent to the park, at the Abington Zoning Hearing Board's Tuesday meeting.
"The purpose here is to fill the gap," T-Mobile attorney George Asimos said.
"The gap" is along the creek and refers to coverage reliability on the streets near the area, specifically Moredon Road, and in the park, Asimos said. He emphasized that 4,000 cars travel Moredon Road daily and that users have compromised service because of the gap. In a presentation, radio frequency engineer for T-Mobile Bryan Grebis said the company was looking to obtain 98 percent reliability, though residents pressed him as to the current reliability rate.
T-Mobile isn't the only provider that has coverage gaps in that area, Asimos said.
He said T-Mobile's case is bolstered in that every cell phone provider has weak service near Moredon Road and in the park and that reliability of customers' cell phones and their safety supercedes aesthetic complaints of Abington residents who live near the park.
Residents orchestrated a presentation that touched on everything from aesthetics, property value and even the history of the park (which was deeded to the county by George Horace Lorimer in 1938). Pictures of other companies' monopoles were shown, a petition opposing the structure containing 91 signatures representing 82 percent of the households was submitted and hours of anecdotal evidence was given.
Resident Larry Schwalb said he has always wanted to live near the park and now he does. He said he takes his twin grandsons to the park and he doesn't want to see it tarnished by a monopole.
"We don't want to sell out," Schwalb said. "It's an area of recreation and we have a major investment in living there. It's for residents and our families to grow up in a beautiful park environment."
Schwalb, referring to property values said, "No one ever sees real estate advertisements that say 'beautiful pole frontage,'" He tried to submit a letter written by a real estate professional regarding decreased property value because of the proposed pole, but was denied because the author, who was not in attendance, could not be questioned.
Abington Commissioner Robert Wachter, speaking as a resident, said when Lorimer deeded the park to the county, it was to be kept in a near natural state, free from commercial use. He said the zoning and setbacks for the proposed pole were not appropriate.
Later, Asimos said municipalities cannot make decisions regarding private restrictions, as in the park's case. He also said the tower is tantamount to a utility, not a commercial use, adding that if the park was to be kept natural, residents' homes should not have been constructed so close to it.
Asimos said while he applauds the democratic process, this issue is not about public opinion but more of a legal matter. He said the Telecommunications Act of 1996 states municipalities may not interfere with communications.
"This is a minimal intrusion for a significant benefit," Asimos said.
Residents vehemently wanted to rebut Asimos' closing statements but were told by the board to do so via written statements.
T-Mobile has 14 days to submit final documents to the zoning hearing board. The hearing board then has 45 days to make a decision upon receiving T-Mobile's documents.
T-Mobile was denied permission to construct a 120-foot-tall on the property of North Penn VFW Post 676 in Glenside in April 2006.
©Montgomery Newspapers 2007

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Jan 20, 2007 - Re: the T-Mobile cell tower application for placement near  Lorimer Park on Moredon Rd, I am not sure but I think Jan 19th there was a meeting scheduled.  The lease amount discussed was , I think, $12,000 in November but I don't have a - haven't been able to keep up with the details . Check the township site or call the township  267-536-1000 to learn more. 

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Notice is hereby given that the Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Abington will hold a meeting as required by the Township of Abington’s Zoning Ordinance at the Abington Township Administration Building, located at 1176 Old York Road, Abington, Pennsylvania, on: Tuesday, December 19, 2006, at 7:00 p.m., at which time a public hearing will commence on the following application: 

06-35:  The application of T-Mobile Northeast, LLC, applicants for the property located

on the southern side of Moredon Road, adjacent to Lorimer Park and referred to as the SEPTA Right-of-Way.  The applicant seeks variances from Ordinance #1793 for use.  In addition, the applicant has requested an interpretation from the Zoning Hearing Board on the term monopole and building.  The applicants have requested approval to install a 150 foot high monopole on the site.  In the event that the use variance is approved by the Zoning Hearing Board, the applicant is still required to obtain Conditional Use approval by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Abington.

The property is zoned within both the Recreational Conservation District and the R-1 Residential District.  It is located within Ward #2 of the Township of Abington.  A copy of the application and site plan is on file with the Zoning Officer of the Township of Abington and is available for review during normal business hours.

This notice is sent by Order of the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mark A. Penecale  Planning & Zoning Officer

Note:      There is a 30 day period after the date of decision is rendered for any and all aggrieved persons to file an appeal in the appropriate court to contest the actions of the Zoning Hearing Board.  Applicants that take action on a Zoning Hearing Board approval during the 30 day appeal period, do so at their own risk.  If there are any questions that you may have, please feel free to contact me at 267-536-1017.  If you are unable to attend the hearing, written comment may be entered into the record by submitting them advance of the hearing to the Planning & Zoning Officer.
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11-06  Look where it is now ....

Zoning Hearing Notice

Notice is hereby given that the Zoning Hearing Board of the Township of Abington will hold a meeting as required by the Township of Abington’s Zoning Ordinance at the Abington Township Administration Building, located at 1176 Old York Road, Abington, Pennsylvania, on:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006, at 7:00 p.m., at which time a public hearing will commence on the following application:

06-35: The application of T-Mobile Northeast, LLC, applicants for the property located

on the southern side of Moredon Road, adjacent to Lorimer Park and referred to as the SEPTA Right-of-Way. The applicant seeks variances from Ordinance #1793 for use. In addition, the applicant has requested an interpretation from the Zoning Hearing Board on the term monopole and building. The applicants have requested approval to install a 150 foot high monopole on the site. In the event that the use variance is approved by the Zoning Hearing Board, the applicant is still required to obtain Conditional Use approval by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Abington.

The property is zoned within both the Recreational Conservation District and the R-1 Residential District. It is also split between both Ward #2 and Ward #3 of the Township of Abington. A copy of the application and site plan is on file with the Zoning Officer of the Township of Abington and is available for review during normal business hours.

This notice is sent by Order of the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mark A. Penecale

Planning & Zoning Officer

Note: There is a 30 day period after the date of decision is rendered for any and all aggrieved persons to file an appeal in the appropriate court to contest the actions of the Zoning Hearing Board. Applicants that take action on a Zoning Hearing Board approval during the 30 day appeal period, do so at their own risk. If there are any questions that you may have, please feel free to contact me at 267-536-1017. If you are unable to attend the hearing, written comment may be entered into the record by submitting them advance of the hearing to the Planning & Zoning Officer.

__________________________________

7-10-06  
We have heard tell that Omnipoint  is appealing the decision of the township. We await verification of this and news about the grounds upon which any  appeal is being based.

5-10-06   Reprinted from the Times Chronicle  ( www.montgomerynews.com)  with permission

Zoners say no to cell tower at VFW   by Lisa Beisel  Staff Writer

The Abington Zoning Hearing Board denied the request by Omnipoint Communications to build a 120-foot cell phone tower on the North Penn VFW property at 2519 Jenkintown Road in a 3-1 vote Tuesday night.

The decision followed several crowded hearings that were filled to the brim with concerned residents and neighbors.
During hearings, Omnipoint Communications, also known as T-Mobile, claimed that the cell phone tower was necessary to close gaps in coverage that exist in the area. Two residents came forward to attest they had T-Mobile service and did not have a problem in the area.
At the closing of the hearing April 18, board Chairwoman Barbara Wertheimer allowed every resident that wanted to speak for or against the cell tower to come forward. Of the almost 30 residents signed up to speak, only two were in favor, one being the president of the board of directors at the VFW.
Among other issues, residents voiced concerns about the visibility of the flag that would be placed on top of the flag pole and would have flown year-round, with ground lighting shining on it.
There was no discussion about the decision Tuesday night. Board member John DiPrimio cast the dissenting vote.
The tower would have been located in an R-4 residential zone located in Ward 9 of the township.
About a dozen residents, including Commissioner Dennis Zappone, in whose ward the VFW is located, were in attendance to hear the decision.
"I think this is a great day for Ardsley," Zappone said following the decision.
He said he agreed with the decision and credited the residents for what he called a "long, hard fight."
Zappone also said the decision properly enforced township codes.
"That's the law of the township," he said.
Resident Bill Cunnane, who attended all the meetings regarding the proposed cell phone tower, was also pleased.
"We saw the system worked very well," Cunnane said, calling the board's decision a "good happy ending."
No representatives from the VFW or Omnipoint Communications were in attendance.

5-8-06  Email received from a resident from the cell tower neighborhood :
"On May 9, 2006, the zoning hearing board is expected to render a decision on the variance request by the Glenside VFW for the erection of a cell tower on their zoned residential property."  Please confirm with the township if you would like to be certain this is the case-  267-536-1000
 

04/19/2006 Reprinted with permission  from Times Chronicle/ Glenside News
VFW cell tower zoning hearing wraps up
By: Lisa Beisel , Staff Writer

Residents of Abington Township made what could only be called a public outcry against a cell phone tower being built at the Jenkintown Road VFW at a continued zoning hearing meeting Tuesday.
Advertisement
Omnipoint Communications, also known as the cell phone company T-Mobile, requested a variance to put a 120-foot-tall cell phone tower on the North Penn VFW property at 2519 Jenkintown Road, located in Ward 9 of Abington Township.
Elizabeth Witmer, attorney for Omnipoint, began the continuance by providing a lease agreement between her client and the VFW, which she was unable to produce at the prior hearing.
Witmer also called Roger Johnson from the Damiano Long engineering firm to testify about more pictures that were requested. At the prior hearing, residents claimed the pictures with the flag or cell tower simulation were not taken from enough angles. Johnson showed 41 pictures from a variety of angles, 14 of which had a flag, shown to scale, on them.
"This is the most extensive balloon study I've ever been involved with and that my firm has ever been involved with," Johnson said.
When asked by a resident why all the photos did not have flag simulations, he said it was a logistical reason.
"It's just not practical to do 41 photo simulations, especially since the balloon is barely visible in many cases," he said.
As promised, zoning hearing board chairwoman Barbara Wertheimer allowed every resident that wanted to speak for or against the cell tower to come forward. Wertheimer warned people would be "cut off" after "a reasonable amount of time," but no specific time limit was given.
Almost 30 residents signed up on a list to speak, but some had left before their turn because of the late hour. Only two residents spoke in favor of the cell tower, one being the president of the board of directors at the VFW.
Resident Ray Kline Jr., who said he was a former township commissioner, said everyone wants to have certain services, but no one wants them in their area.
"Let's get on with it. Zoning hearing board, go for it," Kline said.
Several residents said they resented that the cell tower was being referred to as a "flagpole."
"I resent calling this communication tower a flagpole ... This is a commercial venture," said resident Bill Cunnane, who further noted in the February hearing, the structure was referred to as a flagpole 57 times.
His thoughts were echoed by several other residents.
Many of the other comments focused on the fact that the proposed cell tower falls in an area zoned R4 residential, in which cell phone towers are not permitted.
"Please protect us from this," pleaded resident Jack Carnell.
Carnell also speculated about the noise the flag may make.
"It's going to be really loud, especially on windy days," he said. He also noted there was no way to simulate how the flag would look at night.
If approved, the flag would fly 24 hours a day and would have a light shining on it. In a previous hearing, Johnson said the light will be ground lighting, and the surrounding fence would block neighbors from seeing the lighting structure. He could not answer questions regarding spill of light onto neighboring properties because his firm is not typically involved with lighting, he said at the prior meeting.
Over the course of the hearing, two residents who live in the neighborhood said they had T-Mobile service and had no problems with reception. Another resident pointed out Tuesday that according to the T-Mobile Web site, reception at the VFW address is listed as "fair."
Resident Renee Nichols said the proposed 120-foot structure would be comparable to the height of 12-story building.
"They've never once shown any of the residents a picture of what the actual cell tower would look like, what the compound would look like," Nichols said.
She also said she heard rumors the VFW would make $2,400 a month if the cell tower was installed. Neither representatives from Omnipoint nor the VFW would comment on that figure after the meeting.
John Sweeney, a representative of the VFW, said every rumor about the figure has been erroneous, but the board of directors for the VFW asked him not to disclose the correct number.
The hearing is now closed, and the zoning hearing board will have 45 days to render its decision on the matter.
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Abington Citizens Network :  Hope everyone will note the meeting date originally scheduled for the 21st now has changed to the 18th

Posted 4-13-06 :  From a resident  in the cell tower area:

I would like to alert the citizens of Abington to an issue that I believe is an important one, albeit one that seems only to  directly affect  the residents adjacent to the North Penn VFW on Jenkintown Road. There presently is an application pending before the zoning board of Abington on a zoning change to allow a 120 foot cell phone tower to be constructed on the property of the VFW (2519 Jenkintown Rd) The VFW, I believe, is zoned R-4 residential and always has been since the 1930's or so. There have  been two zoning board hearings so far that I know of on this matter. There is what looks to be a final hearing scheduled for April 21st. ( NOTE -  That has just been changed to the 18th )

     The community in this part of the township is outraged. If built - this tower will be situated less than 50 yards from several residences and will be located in an otherwise entirely residential neighborhood. Both T-mobile and the VFW are completely unsympathetic to the community objections, as they both stand to make money from this deal.  The same company pursued a variance to build its tower at Rosemore Garden Apartments on Easton Rd. But that application  failed because, we understand,  the management of the apartments under the pressure from the residents had canceled T-mobile lease.

     Here is why I believe all the residents of Abington should care: If passed this zoning change will set a dangerous precedent. That will mean that our zoning officials put the commercial interests of  multi national corporations before the interests of their  residents.  We wanted to start petitions to both the zoning board and the VFW to let them know that it is plain wrong to build the tower here.

A few of us have canvassed the immediate neighborhood, distributed flyers urging people to come out and speak at the zoning board meetings.     alexei88@verizon.net

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Posted 4-11-06 a flyer sent by a resident in the cell tower area:

Citizens Alert

Attention taxpayers of Abington Township. Please be aware there is a CELL TOWER planned for the North Penn VFW Post located at 2519 Jenkintown Road.
Mark your calendar and come out to  Zoning Board Hearing. The applicant, Omnipoint Communication Enterprises, L.P. is requesting a variance from Section 304.2A of the Zoning Ordinance of Abington Township, which does not allow for a CELL TOWER to be erected on a residential zoned property. The VFW property is zoned Residential.
WHEN ………….      April 18th, 2006     7:00 PM
WHERE ………...      Abington Township Administration Bldg
               1176 Old York Road, Abington

Here’s what we learned at the February 21, 2006 Zoning Hearing meeting:

·
        The TOWER will be 120 feet tall, starting at 3½ft.wide at the base and ending at 2 ft wide at the top, along with a 40ft x 30ft equipment storage compound.  On the top of the TOWER will be a 15ft x 25ft flag.  Is this larger than your living room?
·
        The storage compound will start out with 2-6 boxes, each the size of a refrigerator, housing a fan with noise similar to a home air conditioner.
·
        OMNIPOINT WILL HAVE THE CAPABILITY OF RENTING OUT THE TOWER AND STORAGE COMPOUND TO 2 MORE CELL PHONE COMPANIES!  Not only does this increase the electromagnetic waves, each company can place 6 more boxes in the compound. THIS MAKES A POSSIBLE TOTAL OF 18 BOXES WITH FANS IN THE FUTURE!

    We believe this will not only affect the VALUE of your home, but that there is concern over whether  electromagnetic waves may prove to be a health risk for you and your family in the future. It will also be likely to produce a constant noise of a flapping flag with rope attachments and fan noise.

    The residents around the Rosemore Garden Apts spoke out against this CELL TOWER in their community very clearly at a Board of Commissioners Meeting. Omnipoint stated that the resident’s opposition is the reason they are looking at the VFW site.  But have they exhausted all other acceptable township sites before trying to erect the TOWER in a zoned residential area?
Call your Commissioner and let your voices be heard
Ward #9 – Dennis Zappone     215-887-0224
( We believe Mr. Zappone has already committed to fighting this TOWER)
Ward #13 – Mike Gillespie      215-884-3597
                           Say NO to the CELL TOWER

 lel@abingtoncitizens.com
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