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UPDATE: Cinnaminson Residents Concerned Over Proposed Radio Tower

The proposed FM tower would be built next to the existing AM tower near the Moorestown-Cinnaminson border.

The existing AM radio tower off Church Street, near the Moorestown-Cinnaminson border. Credit: Rob Scott
The existing AM radio tower off Church Street, near the Moorestown-Cinnaminson border. Credit: Rob Scott

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.

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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.

The zoning board meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the IT room at Moorestown High School.
Phil January 21, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Yeah Pundit, it's easy to call people NIMBY when it doesn't affect you. Hey agent itchy, re-read the comments, people aren't so much upset with the existing tower, although if it came down tomorrow there wouldn't be any tears shed, they're upset a NEW tower might be built near homes that already exist. There's a big difference there.
Dan Reynolds January 21, 2014 at 03:19 PM
Man, I feel for people near the tower. Moving in, looking at a house it's not like you really test out living there with electronics before you buy it. Years ago my wife and I lived near several transmission towers in Philly. We never needed a TV antenna to get every station crystal clear.. Out cordless picked up kyw and WXTU at the same time. Radio amplifiers just had to be turned on to pick up some random station.
AnoninCinna January 22, 2014 at 01:02 PM
While I agree that people who don't want to live near a radio tower shouldn't purchase a house near one, it sounds like the current tower was built after some residents already lived here. As for the new tower, maybe CBS should look at other parcels of land further from residential developments.
Lynne Lihotz January 26, 2014 at 10:17 PM
A few comments to those who have posted previously: As noted, THE PUBLIC HEARING IS RESCHEDULED for February 18 at Moorestown High School at 7:30 pm. Despite the number of people that are affected in the area, the "use variance notice of public hearing" was only given to people within a few hundred feet of the property border. Please tell your neighbors of the meeting if they may have concerns. Perhaps a change in this ordinance should be discussed at the meeting too. I consulted an electrical engineer that specialized in radio broadcast transmission towers and was provided with some important information. It is well known that FM broadcasting will interfere much more (and at a lower power) than AM transmission, so we that are already affected plus perhaps additional people that are not currently experiencing interference will have new issues. We may have to deal with the AM tower because it is grandfathered, but a new tower would not be. He suggested that people should petition to have the AM tower moved away from homes. He stated simply that radio transmission towers simply do not belong in populated areas nearby homes. Perhaps if CBS agrees to take the legal responsibility to rectify any intrusive interference that makes its way into our homes that is caused by the tower, that may be a possible compromise. I grew up across town from the AM tower near Mainline and the AM antenna interfered nearly as badly as at my Concord Drive home. My parents' house was 5 years old when we moved in, so this issue does not have anything to do with "worn" wiring as someone suggested on the Moorestown patch.
Susan Mazza Murnane January 29, 2014 at 10:34 AM
Thanks Rob Scott and Lynne for the update. I will attend the meeting. I am not sure we can stop a 2nd tower but I need to understand how this will affect me or by some amazing luck, CBS decide to build elsewhere.

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