UPDATE: The hearing regarding the proposed FM radio tower on North Church Street will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, in the IT room at Moorestown High School.
When Kathleen Johnston first moved into her Concord Drive home in Cinnaminson 10 years ago, she thought her house was haunted. Why else would voices be coming out of her light switches and outlets?
One visit from an electrician later and Johnston learned the voices weren’t anything supernatural—interference from the radio tower near her home was the root of the problem.
The AM radio tower—located in an open field off Church Street, at the Moorestown-Cinnaminson border—was built roughly 60 years ago (before most of the surrounding homes) and a number of Cinnaminson residents say it’s been a source of disturbances ever since. Now they’re concerned a proposed second tower will create even more problems.
Arlene Creach, who lives nearby on Lexington Drive, said she’s grappled with interference from the tower since she moved in 42 years ago.
“As soon as we moved in, we had major problems. I thought we had a haunted house,” said Creach, echoing Johnston.
People calling her house would hear radio broadcasts coming through the phone, she said. “People used to tell us to turn the radio down, but we didn’t have the radio on. The phone company put four filters on our phone to stop the interference … It still comes through sometimes.”
CBS Radio East Inc., which owns the existing tower and the 21 acres it sits on, sent letters to residents near the tower earlier this month informing them of its intention to build a separate tower for FM broadcasting closer to the road. But Johnston claimed many of the residents affected by the AM tower, which number in the "hundreds," may not have gotten the letter.
The proposed 199-foot tower would allow the radio to stay on the air even during outages, like the ones that occurred during Hurricane Sandy, according to Moorestown zoning officer Pete Clifford.
Johnston, Creach and others who live nearby fear the troubles the AM tower caused—interference, the radio coming through appliances, inability to get on the Internet—will return or become exacerbated if a second tower goes up.
“We paid several thousand dollars to have our whole house rewired. And it did work, thank God,” said Johnston. “Now you’re telling me there’s going to be a second tower? … I don’t know if my neighbors can afford $4,000 to have the whole house rewired.”
Johnston and Creach also expressed some concern over the lack of information regarding the potential unseen—or rather, unheard—consequences of radio waves and their impact on physical health.
CBS did not respond to a request for comment sent Friday.
CBS will appear before the Moorestown Zoning Board Tuesday night seeking variances for the project. Chiefly, CBS seeks a variance because radio towers are not an allowed use in the SRI (Specially Restricted Industrial) zone, as well as permission to exceed the 45-foot height restriction placed on buildings in the SRI zone.