Council approves tower distance increase amid 5G saga

Council approves tower distance increase amid 5G saga

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The Point Pleasant Beach mayor and council adopted an ordinance at their meeting Tuesday to increase the minimum allowable distance between small cell towers from 200 to 500 feet.

Small wireless facilities [small cells], as they are called in the adopted ordinance, are more portable versions of cellular towers and can be deployed much more quickly. However, due to the smaller size of the cells, they provide less robust coverage than large cells. The ordinance increases the mandatory distance between cell towers; which can now no longer be less than 500 feet from each other in all directions.

“You created the support we have for fewer poles in town,” Mayor Paul Kanitra said to Councilwoman Arlene Testa before the adoption vote. “Nice job.”

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The ordinance was adopted by the council unanimously. Council members Tom Migut and Rosa Crowley were absent from the meeting.

SPEED LIMIT TO BE LOWERED

The council also introduced two ordinances at the meeting, one of which would lower the speed limit on parts of Arnold and Ocean avenues.

On Arnold Avenue between Cincinnati and Ocean avenues, and on Ocean Avenue between Route 35 and Broadway, the measure would enact a lower speed limit, from 30 to 25 miles per hour. It would take effect immediately upon its passage, which would be Sept. 5 at the earliest.

CODE VIOLATION ALLEGATIONS
During public comment, Council President Vitale and several residents brought up concerns about alleged code violations issued to Councilwomen Caryn Byrnes and Rosa Crowley. Ms. Crowley was absent from the meeting due to a family event. Ms. Byrnes was accused of a violation involving a short-term rental listing, while Ms. Crowley was accused of a violation involving impervious ground cover.

“I see on the agenda tonight that we’ll be voting on some building department matters,” Mr. Vitale said. “I just want to express my concern [that] both Councilwoman Crowley and Councilwoman Byrnes have open issues in the building department, and my thought is that they should abstain from all building department votes.”

Borough Attorney Kevin Riordan responded that the council members have discretion where recusal is concerned, and that the matters Mr. Vitale suggested the councilwomen recuse themselves from, including a clerkship appointment to the building department, do not appear to be conflicts of interest.

“It’s nice to see you actually attacking people for yourself instead of having your lackeys do it for you,” Mayor Kanitra said to Mr. Vitale.

“It’s important to me that you all know nothing duplicitous was done by me. There was never unpermitted work done at my home from me,” Ms. Byrnes said, addressing the allegation during committee reports. “I closed on the property in February. Anything that was existing there had been there for 15, 20 years, maybe more.”

“In late May, right before this was all made public,” she said, referencing an anonymous letter circulated on Facebook, “I met with the building department to confirm that I was still in compliance with the rental CO [certificate of occupancy], and I learned at that point that I was not.”

She explained that when she closed on the house in February of this year, the seller made no mention of a non-conforming apartment in the house.

“There’s been a history of rentals at that property, too,” she said. “Unbeknownst to me, there were no permits in place for the construction or what have you…This is a process, and I’m working through it.”

Kim Allen, a resident and real estate agent, who spoke during public comment, said that her biggest concern was her perception that the council does not understand the code ordinances that they themselves had approved.

“You don’t even know what your own laws are,” she said.

In a letter to The Ocean Star, Suzy Yengo, attorney for Councilwoman Byrnes, categorically denied the allegation of a non-conforming finished apartment.

“Ms. Byrnes has done no unpermitted work on her home since she purchased it. Ms. Byrnes contacted and met with the borough building department officials prior to being issued any notice of violations to confirm that she was in compliance,” Ms. Yengo said. “Once she was issued a notice, she immediately proceeded to obtain necessary paperwork and move forward with the zoning applications as instructed by the zoning official.”

“This house was built approximately 25 years ago and only recently have any issues been raised,” Ms. Yengo said. “Additionally, Ms. Byrnes deleted her Airbnb listing and has suspended rentals until this is resolved. Ms. Byrnes proactively continues to cooperate and work with the building department on any issues they now have.”

Councilwoman Crowley did not return calls for comment.

This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.

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