New Garden Board opposes application to construct 'Citizen' cell tower
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
In the words of Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again.
Less than two months after New Garden Township's Zoning Hearing Board opposed a zoning application to construct a cellular tower in the township, a follow-up proposal to create a similar tower on May 20 was soundly rejected by the township's Board of Supervisors.
By a vote of 4-0, the board opposed the zoning application of Citizen Towers, LLC, to construct a cellular communications tower at 1515 Yeatmans Station Road in Landenberg, on a 4.3-acre property owned by Arthur J. Santoro. The vote came after a nearly hour-long “Yea” and “Nay” comment session by 31 residents who expressed their opinions in favor of – and in opposition of – the proposed tower.
Citizen Towers, LLC submitted their application for the tower to the ZHB on April 22, proposing the installation of a tower-based Wireless Communications (WCF) at the property “for the use and benefit” of up to four service providers. The tower, they proposed, would consist of a single steel monopole antenna support structure, that would be 125 feet tall. The tower, the application stated, would be available for the installation of four antenna array platforms that would be capable of supporting up to 12 panel-style antennas.
In its application, Citizen Towers, LLC stated that the proposed tower would “remedy a significant gap in wireless coverage which exists for wireless providers operating in the township – including T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, AT &T Mobility and Sprint Spectrum.”
As one of the 11 residents who spoke in favor of constructing the tower, Tara DiGiacomo of London Britain Township echoed her fellow supporters in saying that a tower built on the location would make the community safer.
“If you’re driving down Good Hope Road and there is an accident, you can’t reach anyone,” she said. "If there is anyone here from the police department, the EMT or paramedics, I would love to hear a statement from you, supporting that. I do understand your opposition as homeowners and the beautiful homes you have, but if you think that this cell tower is impacting your home’s value, you’re never going to get someone to pay for your house.
“A millennial with a young family coming in to purchase your home is not going to buy it,” she added. “They are immediate. They are wired. They want it now and they want it hot. We need a cell tower. I hope that we can all come to an agreement that we need one.”
A few of those in favor of the cell tower focused their arguments on the severe limitation of cell phone access in the White Clay Creek Preserve where, in the event of an accident, it would be difficult for a cell phone user to get a response.
Of the 20 residents who encouraged the board to reject the application, the general focus of their disapproval centered on the potential impact a tower of this kind would have on the rural and historic character of the community, as well as the resale value of their homes. Some called the application a waste of the township’s time and resources.
Several in opposition called upon the supervisors to again honor the township’s existing ordinances regarding the use of telecommunications facilities in the township, laws that formed the basis of a March 24 vote by the township's Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) that rejected an application by Eco-Site, Inc. and its co-applicant T-Mobile Northeast, LLC to build a tower at 1511 Yeatmans Station Road.
Over the course of the last two years and at several public hearings held before the ZHB, Eco-Sites, Inc. and T-Mobile Northeast, LLC attempted to prove that the township’s laws regarding the use and function of wireless communications facilities in the township are invalid and unconstitutional.
At the time of the March 24 vote, the ZHB said that the application violated Section 200-119 of the township’s zoning ordinance, which establishes uniform standards for the siting, design, permitting, maintenance, and use of wireless communications facilities in the township.
In denying the March application, the ZHB made reference to a township ordinance that states “while the township recognizes the importance of wireless communications facilities in providing high-quality communications service to its residents and businesses, the township also recognizes that it has an obligation to protect the public safety and to minimize the adverse visual effects of such facilities through the standards set forth” in several dozen provisions.
Opposing the application, board chairman Steve Allaband said it not only violated township ordinances, those in favor of the tower focused most of their concerns for safety on property that isn’t even in the township.
“I think the majority of concerns for safety were related to the [White Clay Creek] Preserve or the White Clay State Park,” he said. “Does anyone know how much of that is in New Garden Township? I do. That would be zero percent. None.”
The board agreed with Allaband, and also agreed to send township solicitor Vince Pompo to the ZHB to formally oppose the application.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.