Lakewood Zoning Board sued after Chairman ignores neighbors concerns

A Lakewood resident has filed a lawsuit against the Township Zoning Board after the Board approved a cell tower facility on top of the Senior Citizen resident building on Clifton Avenue and 5th Street despite health concerns presented by numerous neighbors.

Back in March, Lakewood Township's Zoning Board granted a Use Variance as well Bulk Variance relief to a Verizon subsidy to install a cell tower facility on top of the Senior Citizen resident building on Clifton Avenue and 5th Street.

Numerous neighbors attended the Zoning Board hearing and spoke up in opposition to the installation of the cell tower, citing health concerns due to the proximity of the proposed tower to residential homes.

Attorneys for Verizon counter asserted that the Zoning Board is precluded from considering the health effects of the cell tower, beyond whether they followed FCC guidelines.

In response to this assertion, the neighbors attempted to distribute to the Board articles regarding a Federal appeals court opinion that the FCC, which has not updated their guidelines regarding the standards for cell towers since 1996, has failed to adequately respond to credible evidence, such as from the American Academy of Pediatrics, of the impact of radio frequency radiation on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has presented credible evidence that exposure to radio frequency radiation can have health impacts and environmental impacts even at levels lower that those permitted under the existing guidelines.

The neighbors implored the Board to table the application to a future date to permit them to retain a professional to better present their concerns to the Zoning Board.

The Zoning Board refused to postpone the hearing, and even to look at the federal court opinion after the Board Attorney asserted the articles were irrelevant because "he is sure there are other articles that say differently."

The neighbors have filed a Complaint in Lieu of Prerogative Writs asking the Superior Court asking the Judge to overturn the Zoning Board's decision, arguing that the Board's refusal to adjourn the hearing, despite multiple objectors requesting the opportunity to secure a expert witness was contrary to applicable law; and was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and otherwise wrongful against the neighbors.

The neighbors are also charging that the Board's failure to consider evidence regarding the health and environmental impact of cell phone towers, and relying solely on the FCC standards - despite the Federal Court's opinion that the FCC standards are arbitrary and capricious in failing to support their conclusion to not update their wildly out of date standards, - as well as the Board's utter refusal to even accept and read the printed news article the neighbors attempted to present, was arbitrary and capricious.

This lawsuit was filed by Jan Meyer, a Land Use attorney and expert from Teaneck. Attorney Meyer recently successfully won over Lakewood's Zoning Board for their refusal to permit neighbors on Spruce Street to postpone a hearing to give them time to hire an expert to properly present their objection to an application to permit additional houses on the block.

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