The board voted 7-0 to allow the company to install the tower at 1267 North Church Street in Moorestown. The tower would technically be located in an industrial area in Moorestown, but it would be up against a residential area in Cinnaminson.
The board approved the company’s requests for use variances to install the tower with the understanding the auxiliary tower and the original tower located 350 feet from the auxiliary tower would never be in use simultaneously, and with the understanding CBS wouldn’t allow any other company to use the tower.
CBS needed the use variances to construct the tower in a Specially Restricted zone (SRI) and to exceed the 45-foot height restriction imposed on buildings in the SRI zone.
The auxiliary tower is to be used as a backup for 1210 WPHT AM radio, but none of the other stations CBS operates in the area.
The auxiliary tower is smaller than the existing tower, and won’t reach the same coverage area as the existing tower, which predates the residential area in Cinnaminson. The tower was constructed in 1940.
Residents from both Cinnaminson and Moorestown raised concerns over health issues during the nearly four-hour meeting Tuesday night.
Dr. Kenneth Foster, a professor in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, was called upon as an independent witness for the zoning board to analyze and discuss health risks related to AM towers He was not representing the University Tuesday night.
He testified there is no definite connection between AM radio towers and illness caused by radioactivity, classifying some studies that have shown a connection as weak and discredited among the scientific community.
He also said any study that has been done has been conducted across entire countries, and there weren’t enough people in the area to conduct a meaningful study.
“I can see no negative impacts of this
application,” Foster said.
He did add that in his opinion, claims made by CBS that they must be a 24-hour operation in order to distribute needed information during emergency management situations was not a major benefit.
“There is a redundancy. Everyone participates in the Emergency Alert System. This particular station isn’t necessary,” Foster said. “It’s useful for them to be on all the time, but it’s not necessary.”
Currently, the station experiences downtime when the existing tower must undergo maintenance. The existence of the auxiliary tower means the station will not experience any down time.
In addition to health concerns, residents expressed dissatisfaction with what they termed a 24-hour, 7-day a week presence of the station in their home. Multiple residents reported being able to hear the station through electrical outlets, household appliances, phones, baby monitors and other devices not normally used for radio broadcast.
It’s a phenomenon CBS can’t explain, Comast and Verizon are unable to solve and residents term a “nuisance.”
Others dispute CBS’s claim that the radio station is a public service. While company representatives pointed to the dissemination of the news as a vital part of their services, residents questioned how much of their broadcast time is spent on Philadelphia Phillies games and disputing the purpose of some of their programs, including the Rush Limbaugh Show, as a public service.
One Cinnaminson woman claimed she wasn’t notified of the proposed project, despite living within 200 feet of the proposed auxiliary tower.
“If everyone in my neighborhood were notified, there would be a lot more people here,” said Jennifer Bottomely, of Cinnaminson. “If we had one more hearing, I could have 50 or 60 people here.”
After Tuesday’s vote, there will be no more hearings.
The Zoning Board will memorialize its decision at its meeting on March 18, after which there will be a 45-day period for members of the public to contest the project moving forward.