Johnstown Independent

Monroe Township

Johnstown might have little recourse to stop cell-tower

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After hearing that a cellphone tower could be erected just feet from Johnstown's boundaries, village leaders are looking into ways to stop the tower from affecting its residents.

A cell-tower company, on behalf of Verizon Wireless, contacted the Johnstown Youth Athletic Association in the fall about placing a tower of unknown height on JYAA property.

The tower would provide 4G service to the Johnstown area. It would be erected in their Belt Field Sports Complex at 281 W. Jersey St., a property that sits just across the street from many Johnstown residences but is in Monroe Township, where zoning regulations aren't as strict.

Mayor Sean Staneart said he found out the JYAA board was considering a vote on leasing land for the tower as early as last week, and rushed to ask the board to postpone the decision.

His efforts bought the village "a couple of weeks" to consider options, he said.

"We've consulted with the law director to see what options we do have," Village Manager Jim Lenner said. "It could be that if we have no recourse whatsoever, we could file (a court complaint seeking) an injunction. But first of all, we want to work with the JYAA to come to an agreement."

The fact that the property isn't within the village limits Johnstown's authority.

"It cuts our legs out from underneath us because it is outside of the village," Lenner said. "That's going to be the problem with the whole thing; it's not in the village. But it sure does affect our residents."

JYAA President Chad Harrison said a decision has not been made on the part of the association, and although a vote of the association board could come soon, nothing is imminent -- though construction could start as early as this fall.

"We're not convinced it's the only option; it's just an option," Harrison said. "Even the board members are not 100 percent sold on the idea."

Harrison said the JYAA would charge $600 to $800 a month to lease the 35-by-70-foot parcel of parkland to house the tower.

That revenue, he said, would be huge for the organization.

"We get a lot of volunteer work, and that park certainly needs improvement," he said. "From paved parking lots to a building that's ready to fall, rather than pass those costs to participants, we would prefer to find another source of revenue."

He said he knows about opposition in Johnstown but hasn't heard the same negativity that Lenner and council members have conveyed.

"I haven't heard any negative from anyone other than the council," he said. "The ones I've heard from have all been very positive. They agree it's a great revenue stream, and they understand that we could use that."

Lenner and Staneart said they both understand why the tower is of interest to the JYAA but that they're trying to look out for their residents.

"What we don't want to see is a 190-foot tower right smack dab behind someone's fence," Lenner said.

Monroe Township Trustee John Sadinski, contacted Friday, July 25, said he was unaware of the proposed tower, and no formal action to approve it has been considered or discussed by the Monroe trustees.

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