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Moorestown Zoning Board Approves Controversial Radio Tower Project

The board voted, 7-0, to allow CBS to construct an auxiliary tower on Church Street.

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
CBS Radio can move forward with plans for an auxiliary tower along the border between Cinnaminson and Moorestown, the Moorestown Zoning Board of Adjustment ruled Tuesday night.

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.

Jennifer February 19, 2014 at 10:12 AM
It is sad that Cinnaminson residents were not notified about this earlier. Legally only 5 Cinnaminson houses were required to get certified letters. The 5 that fall within 200 feet of the tower. I was also very disappointed that no Cinnaminson elected officials were at the meeting last night to represent our interests. Living as close as I do to the current tower I knew nothing about this until very recently. CBS is bullying the residents and clearly Morrestown could care less about our lives that are affected by the current tower and soon to be built, new tower. I am sure if CBS was constructing an AM tower near a residential area in Morrestown they would care a little bit more.
Pete February 19, 2014 at 11:10 AM
Errors in house wiring, faulty appliances, tooth fillings etc. can cause annoying interference from radio broadcast station antenna emissions but the real question is whether or not the emissions are a health hazard. For the CBS antenna frequency (1210 kHz), maximum permissible human body exposure of 100mW/cm2 is the common standard. If the intercepted power density is less than that, it is deemed safe for human health and there is really not much the residents can do. Ref; IEEE Std C95.1.
Jerry O'Malley February 19, 2014 at 01:37 PM
just wait for the cancer clusters to start from folks living on Concord Drive. It will be like all the cancer diagnoses that occurred among residents along Parry at the border near Delran, where the high power lines go through backyards.
Pete February 19, 2014 at 04:37 PM
@Pundit: “Lame”? Thanks for the kudos. Fact is that there are multiple reasons for picking up AM radio signals - mostly associated with materials that function as a simple rectifier diode. Even tooth fillings that are properly installed, and not faulty, can do it. I’m sure that you could learn all about it if you spent a few weeks on the web studying basic electrical engineering. Or even your high school physics book……… BTW, does every house within a half mile of the tower have a problem as you suggest?
Kathy Johnston February 19, 2014 at 05:34 PM
Jerry, you don't have to wait. The cancer has already started on Concord Drive and the surrounding Ivywood area. I already know of over 15 people just on Concord that have either died or have cancer just on Concord but CBS will not do any studies on this. Just like Dr. Foster who represented Moorestown who says you need a whole country that's a bunch of crap. All they need to do is knock on some doors like I did and they'd find out a lot of information. I should have done that before I bought my house. Because now my house won't be worth anything...thank you Moorestown. But yet my taxes will keep going up.
Kathy Johnston February 19, 2014 at 07:15 PM
No wonder Moorestown passed the tower. With the taxes they are collecting on this property it's all about the $$$. Please see. http://www.njtaxrecords.net/r/1267-n-church-st-moorestown-burlington-county-nj-property-tax-record-529765
Kathy Johnston February 19, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Add a second tower and they'll raise the taxes even more. $$$
Pete February 19, 2014 at 09:51 PM
@ Pundit: I’m very sorry about your parents. Seems that you no longer have a problem – wonder why? Perhaps CBS adjusted the antenna beam pattern. If I lived in close proximity to any of those antennas I would get together with the neighbors, collect a few hundred$ and pay someone to make RF field density measurements like http://www.enertech.net/index.html . I’ve worked with RF power for many years and know that RF radiation/fields are something to be cautious about. Problem with discussing such an issue in a forum like Patch is that most people who comment do not have a technical clue about what they are talking about. Scare tactics are used to inflame the neighbors and blame everything on the politicians or the radio stations. Most people probably get much more radiation from their cell phones than any properly installed, and tested, radio station antennas….
Lisa February 20, 2014 at 11:41 AM
isn't anyone concerned why there isn't grass growing there?
Lisa February 20, 2014 at 12:52 PM
also i know of someone on salem drive who pasted away as well to cancer SMH so sad
Michael Engi February 20, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Politics is always a hard battle and when you have the town getting revenue from CBS it makes it harder. I can't believe that not one person on that board after hearing the testimony from residents about the nuisance and health concerns voted no. It's almost obvious what is going on. I did not know 15 residents on Concord had cancer. This should have been addressed at the meetings. If we had been given proper notification it might have. I live on Salem Drive and found out the man I bought my house from 2 years ago just died this past year of cancer. "Wake up people", as I told the good Doctor provided by Moorestown, none of his testimony showed any evidence one way or the other, his statement, "there have not been enough studies done". This does not prove there is or isn't a connection just because it hasn't been proven yet. Talk about a kangaroo court, Moorestown Zoning Board should be ashamed for their lack of concern. I don't care if you have to sit there all night or continue the meeting another day, you should not have been allowed to cut off residents just because " you had your say", and then be told to sit down. Mr. Chairman you chose that job, if you don't want to do it resign. None of wanted to sit there all night and none of us has a secretary do our notes. To the Citizens who are still concerned about the issue I suggest we organize a Citizens Action Group and file an appeal with the Board. In addition, as I questioned CBS at the meeting, their current FCC license is up for renewal, we have a short window according to the FCC to file a request to deny the renewal of their license to broadcast which is due now. This can only be done every 8 years. I suggest we file this complaint with the FCC to stop their license renewal and/or at least start an inquiry from the FCC itself. By the way, has anyone ever wondered why the trees don't grow on the CBS property. I tried to find out until I was cut off by the board. Being a victim of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam I found out the hard way what exposure to Dioxin and other similar chemicals can do to humans. I saw first hand what it did to the brush and jungle and it looks similar to that antenna field, nothing will grow for years. I don't know what they have used but something had to stop the trees from growing at the site and I'd like to know what it is. They don't cut the grass in the summer so what stops the trees, bushes etc. from growing out of control. Maybe it's the radiation, I don't know, but we need to find out if it is Chemically treated and if so, with what? Not only can the water supply be contaminated but animals that feed on the grass such as deer and turkeys, which some people eat would also be contaminated. This issue to build a new tower would not have been such a problem in itself but it brought to light the already existing problems that have never been sufficiently addressed. As I said, it seems funny to me after 74 years of operation you just now thought about having a back up tower? I still say there is more here we don't know. If you want to get together and try to do something speak up. I'm in, you can contact me via email, K2VET@Comcast.net.
Kathy Johnston February 20, 2014 at 09:02 PM
I have seen a big tractor cutting the grass at least once every season at that property. So as for trees not growing there I would say it's because they do cut the grass.
Lisa Kemble February 20, 2014 at 09:41 PM
I attended the meeting and in my opinion the Moorestown Zoning Board was more concerned about the landscape around the tower (trees and shrubs) and color of the tower (Moorestown wants gray btw) than the interference and potential health concerns. If there were multi-million dollar Moorestown homes sitting next to those towers, I guarantee this second tower would not have been approved, especially after witnessing how they scrutinized the extension of a homeowner's garage 4 feet in depth, no where near the property line. Thanks to Patch, we heard about this meeting because like Jennifer, we never received a notice. After the meeting, I spoke with Dr. Foster. I thanked him for sharing his findings and told him that I truly hope he is correct that there are no health risks. He shared with me that folks should be more concerned about cell phone usage, especially cell phone usage near a radio tower. Interesting! I was really surprised and disappointed that Cinnaminson Township officials were not present at the meeting. Cinnaminson Township Officials should insist upon receiving monthly utilization reports from CBS showing peaks, outages, and auxillary tower usage to ensure CBS remains in compliance with what has been promised. FYI - CBS admitted to boosting the signals.
Pete February 20, 2014 at 10:05 PM
I drove by the antenna site each day this week and noticed that the snow in the field melted almost two days earlier than the snow on a field on the other side of town. That radiation is so powerful that it is melting snow……. And the male wild turkeys on the field have green skin on their throats instead of red. I only drive west on N. Church St (I return using a different route) and the paint on the right side of my car has been bleached two shades lighter in color than the other side - I’ll avoid N. Church St. in the future.
Michael Engi February 25, 2014 at 02:31 PM
You can't be serious....I'd suggest riding the other way for a while to make the paint match. lol
Pete February 26, 2014 at 02:30 PM
Yes Michael, I’m not serious. Point is that this is a technical issue and not an emotional one. Without RF field survey measurements, valid and complete medical data of all the nearby residents compared to a baseline on the other side of town and similar data there can be no intelligent discussion………. Just because a couple of poor souls on the block contracted cancer proves nothing. Several people on my block also had cancer – should I blame that on the tower? On the traffic on my street? On the water in our local city mains? etc
Michael Engi March 01, 2014 at 11:41 PM
As I said at the meetings, my concerns were primarily safety issues since most people didn't realize the tower itself actually is the antenna and 50K watts if touched would be fatal depending on the grounding. I wanted CBS to post an additional fence to ensure children would be thoroughly discouraged, since there would be no second chance. It was after the first meeting I attended that other residents stated, on face book, that 15 cases of cancer had been noted on Concord alone, along with the previous owner of my house who died last year, that I became a bit concerned. It proves nothing as you say but I think a reasonable person would have cause for question of a number of cases in a concentrated area that happens to be within feet of a high radiation source. I wanted to find out more and if true, there may be a link between the current tower SAR and any previous test done 74 years ago, if done at all. Since this was primarily farm land back then with no residents, an updated test would seem to be in order to see if the existing tower had an effect on the residential area not previously inhabited. The allowable FCC SAR rate is 1.6 watts as I am sure you are aware, however when was the last test done or was there ever a test done on the populated area. How close will humans be to the new tower of 35K watts? It will be a lot closer to the road and the football field across the street and those who play there. I suggest you find a different route to work, your car may start to glow in the dark. This is the issue of which I could not get an answer. If there is an abnormal cancer rate in the area and a test result showed a higher than normal SAR the FCC would be obligated to investigate. In addition, such agencies as the World Health Organization and OSHA may become involved. I was hoping I could stir enough interest to have this test done in the residential area around the tower site to see where we stand. It is clear that CBS will not pay to have it done. They are only required to fall within the FCC guidelines and tests are not required to renew their license. It's typical of our society not to get involved, politicians stay clear of the topic unless they can get some mileage, yet careful not to rock the political boat and remain silent. You won't see their comments here.
Pete March 02, 2014 at 06:33 PM
The requirements for AM radio transmitters and associated equipment are governed by: Code of Federal Regulations, title 47 - telecommunication » chapter i—federal communications commission » subchapter c—broadcast radio services» part 73--radio broadcast services. I’m certain that within the very long and complicated §73 there are requirements to measure field intensity, erect fences (§73.49) and the like. I’m also certain that CBS will not do any more than the Code requires. § 73.24, Tells me that authorization for a new AM broadcast station or increase in facilities of an existing station in part “(g) That the population within the 1 V/m contour does not exceed 1.0 percent of the population within the 25 mV/m contour: Provided, however, That where the number of persons within the 1 V/m contour is 300 or less the provisions of this paragraph are not applicable. (h) That, in the case of an application for a Class B or Class D station on a clear channel, the proposed station would radiate, during two hours following local sunrise and two hours preceding local sunset, in any direction toward the 0.1 mV/m groundwave contour of a co-channel United States Class A station, no more than the maximum value permitted under the provisions of § 73.187.” For Directional Antennas, § 73.155 requires that the station perform some RF measurements every 24 months or less. The existing antenna is not, as far as I can tell, a directional antenna. Seems that is it is just a simple ¼ wave half dipole (or perhaps longer wavelength to obtain some vertical pattern shape) which is omnidirectional. Can’t find anything in the code for omnidirectional antenna. All of these data are submitted to the FCC and copies are available from any of the various copy services in Washington, DC. Of course, if these reports do not contain field strength data at the closest street or data that can be extrapolated to that distance the information will be useless. The Specific Absorption Rate, SAR, of 1.6 Watts/kilogram you quoted relates only to cell phone antenna radiation. For other general radiation the limit for the general public is 0.08 W/kg. I believe the testing done by CBS would be in terms of field strength in mV/m. I say again that if I lived close to those antennas I would pay a contractor to make field strength measurements. If those data show well below the acceptable exposure limits of ANSI or other guidance then it will cost $50k-$100k in lawyer’s fees to get any satisfaction.
Michael Engi March 02, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Correct, the FCC data is for cell phones, however that is what they sent me when I spoke of AM broadcast specifically. The woman obviously was not a tech person. Maybe I can get the FCC to request a test be done. There are also parts of the reg. that refers to employees exposure time as opposed to others. It all seems to be geared toward the time an employee is exposed to the radiation verses the environment or time other humans may be exposed, in addition to the amount.
Pete March 02, 2014 at 10:28 PM
I’ve spent decades working with both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation and the personnel safety issues associated with them. I’ve spoken to some of the folks in DC that write the exposure limit regulations and the conversations were not comforting. There are no easy answers. Most of the AM broadcast code requirements deal with RF interference with other license holders and not the employees or public exposure safety issues. To get the FCC to sponsor a test will, I think, require reams of cancer data and proof that there is indeed a hot-spot of illness in the vicinity.
Michael Engi March 03, 2014 at 02:58 PM
Maybe I should get back on the radio (k2vet) and tune up on some harmonics of 1210. Just kidding.

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