TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES – SEPTEMBER 11, 2006

 

 

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on September 11, 2006.  Chairman Pazdera called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

 

Those present:

 

Planning Commission:   John Pazdera, Chairman

                                                Dean Dickson, Vice Chairman

                                                Tony Bush, Secretary

                                                Richard Cylinder, Member

                                                Karen Friedman, Member

 

Others:                                     Nancy Frick, Director Zoning, Inspection & Planning

                                                John Donaghy, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Ron Smith, Supervisor Liaison

 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Ms. Friedman moved and Mr. Bush seconded to approve the Minutes of June 26, 2006 as corrected.  Motion carried with Mr. Dickson abstained.

 

 

#575-A – T-MOBILE NORTHEAST, LLC – CONDITIONAL USE APPLICATION/

RECOMMENDATION

 

Mr. William Benner was present and stated this is a co-location Application for the

communication tower located at the Lower Makefield Corporate Center.  He stated

Cingular Wireless occupies the top position pursuant to a Conditional Use Decision

issued previously.  Sprint occupies the second highest platform pursuant to a Conditional

Use Decision, and now T-Mobile is before the Township seeking authorization to mount

their antenna array and equipment at the base similar to the other wireless providers. 

 

Mr. Benner stated the Application was filed with a series of site specific reports designed

to show compliance to Lower Makefield’s Telecommunications Ordinance; and except

for the height of the antenna platform, the file materials submitted were indistinguishable

from those of their predecessors. 

 

Mr. Benner stated there was some confusion raised with this Application in that the Plan

submitted showed an antenna platform with twelve antennas but the Lease T-Mobile has

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 2 of 10

 

 

with American Tower Corporation shows an antenna array configuration of nine antennas

and the structural report submitted is based upon nine antennas.  He stated Plans that

were filed show the ultimate build-out of the site with a total of twelve antennas attached

to the antenna platform.  For the purpose of the Conditional Use Application T-Mobile

would be happy to secure authorization or Conditional Use Approval to mount a total of

nine antennas consistent with the structural report and Agreement, but they would request

the opportunity to add three additional antenna sometime in the future but without having

to invoke the full Conditional Use process since they would only be adding additional

antennas to a previously-approved platform.  He added they recognize that before they

could add the three additional antennas, they would have to apply for and receive

Building Permits which would involve a review by the Township officials of an updated

structural report. 

 

Mr. Donaghy asked if they are seeking approval for twelve antennas, but intend to only

install nine at this time; and Mr. Benner stated they could do it this way.  He stated

T-Mobile would like to have authorization to have twelve antennas with the

understanding that no more than nine would be built at this time with the condition that

there would be an updated structural report when they add the three additional antennas

sometime in the future.   He stated if Lower Makefield were more comfortable with

granting Conditional Use Approval for nine antennas but allow T-Mobile to add three

additional antennas in the future this would be fine as well.    He stated assuming

Conditional Use Approval is granted, T-Mobile would recognize that they will still need

to file an additional structural report when the additional antennas are added but would

prefer not being required to have another Conditional Use Approval for those three

antennas.

 

Mr. Donaghy stated he feels in either case, they are requesting approval to install twelve

antennas. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked who owns the tower, and Mr. Benner stated American Tower owns

the tower and leases space on the tower.  Cingular and Sprint currently have leased space

on the tower, and T-Mobile is now requesting to mount their antenna at 100’.  He stated

they will have an antenna platform to which the antennas will be attached.  The Plans

submitted show a total of twelve antennas being attached.  Mr. Cylinder asked if there is

a capacity in the area he is discussing and asked if they could add more than twelve

antennas.  Mr. Benner stated the traditional antenna configuration is to mount the

antennas in a three-sector array with six, nine, or twelve antennas.  Mr. Cylinder asked if

there is more space for anyone to go on the tower, and Mr. Benner stated there would not

be space to go higher.  Mr. Cylinder asked if they could go lower, and Mr. Benner stated

if the tower were structurally-adequate, it may be possible to support someone going

lower.  He stated there needs to be a separation between the antennas and typically this is

ten feet.

 

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 3 of 10

 

 

Mr. Cylinder stated he assumes T-Mobile has authorization from the owner of the tower;

and Mr. Benner stated this is correct, and the information showing this was included with

the Conditional Use materials submitted to the Township. 

 

Mr. Pazdera asked Mr. Majewski how many antennas the tower was originally approved

for, but Mr. Majewski stated he did not recall.  Mr. Donaghy stated according to the Plans

one additional array of antenna has already been added.  Cingular was the original

Applicant and Sprint came later. 

 

Mr. Donaghy explained to the Planning Commission members that the reason the

Applicant is present is not for the traditional request for Subdivision or Land

Development.  He stated under the terms of the Ordinance, assuming the location under

discussion is located in the Overlay District zoned for telecommunications, which this

one is, the Applicant can install these facilities if they receive a Conditional Use from the

Board of Supervisors.  Under the terms of the Conditional Use, they must establish that

specific conditions listed in the Ordinance have been met.  He stated part of the review of

a Conditional Use is that the matter go to the Planning Commission for review and an

advisory opinion to the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Donaghy stated under the provisions

of the Ordinance there are a number of conditions, many of which are not applicable in

this case as they refer to the installation of a new tower; and in this case this is an existing

tower.  Mr. Donaghy stated in this case they are only requesting approval to place

additional antennas and for equipment to be installed at the base area. 

 

Mr. Benner stated the equipment to be placed at the base of the tower would be placed on

a small concrete pad.  It would all be contained in the previously-approved compound. 

There will be no extension of the compound. 

 

Mr. Benner stated all the Plans and materials submitted with the Application with the

exception of the structural certification show the ultimate build out at twelve antennas

including the report which addresses the radio frequency/electronic magnetic energy

associated with the installation which was done on the assumption of the full build out. 

He stated that report shows that the proposed installation, operating with twelve antennas,

will be substantially less than the FCC limit.

 

Mr. Majewski asked if this is the last antenna array that could go on the pole, and

Mr. Benner stated he cannot answer this question.  He stated they do have a structural

report that shows that the tower is at about 63% capacity.  He stated any other Applicant

would have to show compliance with the Conditional Use standards.  Mr. Benner stated

any additional antennas would have to be lower than the proposed T-Mobile antennas.  

 

Ms. Frick asked if the Township could be provided a copy of the structural report. 

Mr. Benner stated they did provide copy of the structural report for nine antennas. 

He stated they do not have a structural report for twelve antennas.  Ms. Frick asked that

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 4 of 10

 

 

the Township be provided with this when it is available, and Mr. Benner stated as soon as

it is available, it will be provided.  Mr. Donaghy asked if they are obtaining a structural

report that will cover twelve antennas, and Mr. Benner stated they are.  Mr. Donaghy

asked if this will be available before the Board of Supervisors meet to consider this

matter, and Mr. Benner stated it is unlikely that it will be available by that time. 

Mr. Donaghy stated it appears that they are requesting that they be able to install nine at

this point with the right to go to twelve conditioned upon providing a structural analysis

satisfactory to the Township engineer, and Mr. Benner agreed.

 

Ms. Friedman stated it appears they are requesting one platform and one tower, and

Mr. Benner stated there is an existing mono-pole tower with two existing platforms. 

He stated T-Mobile would mount their antennas under the two existing platforms.  He

stated it is a 120’ tower with one existing platform at the top of the pole for Cingular’s

antennas, one at 110’ with Sprint’s antennas, and T-Mobile proposes to build one

platform at 100’ and it will likely be configured as a square rather than a triangle upon

which they will initially place eight to nine antennas.  They recognize that if they receive

authorization for the full twelve, they will have to supply a new structural report for the

twelve antennas.  He stated they will add an additional three to four antennas in the future

not to exceed twelve on the same platform. 

 

Ms. Friedman stated she is concerned with the total amount of poles in this area. 

Mr. Benner stated there is only one pole.  Ms. Friedman asked about overlap and if this

causes interference with the frequencies as she is concerned with putting twelve on one

unit.   Mr. Benner stated there will not be any interference.  He stated what they are

proposing is a very typical installation and having more than one carrier with their

antennas on one monopole is very common.  He stated under the FCC licensing, each

wireless carrier is assigned a specific frequency on which they broadcast their signal. 

He stated it would be a violation of their License to transmit outside of their assigned

frequency.  He stated T-Mobile and the other providers are careful not to violate this. 

He stated these frequencies also do not interfere with TV, radio, etc. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if it is a physical platform, and Mr. Benner stated it is a mounting. 

Mr. Cylinder asked how many square feet will be involved with the platform and how

does it compare to the other platforms on the pole.  Mr. Benner stated it is ten square feet

and is consistent with others on the pole. 

 

Ms. Friedman asked if Sprint or Cingular have sought any more approvals for more antennas, and asked if they are looking to put twelve on as well.  Ms. Frick stated what they have obtained approval for is what they have obtained Permits for.  She is not sure how many more they may want to have in the future. 

 

 

 

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 5 of 10

 

Mr. Donaghy asked how many antennas are on each of the other two existing platforms,

and Mr. Benner stated, despite representing them in their Applications, he does not recall

as it was some time ago.  Mr. Pazdera stated according to the structural report, there are

twelve on Cingular and nine on Sprint. 

 

Mr. Pazdera noted that according to the structural report it states the tower is 118 feet, not

122 feet.  Mr. Benner stated he only has the structural report that indicates Cingular has

twelve antennas and Sprint nine antennas.  He stated the antennas do extend slightly

above the top of the tower.  Mr. Pazdera asked why there is a difference between the

tower description versus what is on the drawing.  He stated while he recognizes that the

antenna extend above the tower, the drawing shows a 122 foot tower, and the American

Tower structural evaluation shows it is a 118 foot tower.  Mr. Pazdera asked why there is

an inconsistency, and Mr. Benner stated he does not feel it is an inconsistency as the

Zoning drawings show the existing Cingular antenna at 123 feet and it could be that they

are measuring the center line to the center line of the antenna.  Mr. Pazdera stated there is

also a note that points to the pole that says “122 feet high.”  Mr. Benner stated the

Application under discussion proposes no changes to the pole.  Mr. Pazdera stated while

this may be true, he feels there should be consistent information in the Application. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if they require FAA approval, and Mr. Benner stated when the

monopole was first approved in 1998 there was documentation filed showing that this

tower does not require distinctive markings by the FAA.  He added that since T-Mobile

does not propose to increase the height of the tower, that Section of the Ordinance would

not apply. 

 

Mr. Pazdera asked what has changed with the technology that now requires twenty-seven

coaxial cables when the other two have one per antenna.  Mr. Hooman Parsia stated

the number of lines is based on the antenna models chosen and the technology being

used.  He stated each of the three carriers use different technologies and different antenna

manufacturers.  The T-Mobile lines are based on their technology and manufacturer.  He

stated the twenty-seven lines was based on nine antennas. 


Mr. Pazdera stated in the engineer’s review letter there was a question as to whether the

cables  were going inside or outside the monopole, and the structural evaluation states

that they should install the coaxial cables inside the pole.  He asked how many

will be inside.  Mr. Parsia stated this would depend on how much space is available

inside the pole, and they have not determined this yet.  Mr. Benner stated this would be

determined at the Building Permit stage.

 

Mr. Bush asked Mr. Donaghy about the License Fee being paid by the Applicant and

asked if this information is typically disclosed to the Township and does the Township

have any interest in knowing what that fee is.  Mr. Donaghy stated he does not know if it

is typically disclosed, but he does not feel why the cost of the Licensing of that space

should matter to the Township as long as the Applicant has the approval.

September 20, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 6 of 10

 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if they see any changes in the technology that would require

additional antennas or a reduction in the number of antennas in the future.

Mr. Parsia stated typically for three sectors, they would ask for nine antennas and only

install eight.  He stated this provides for the advanced technology that their company is

migrating toward.  He stated once they migrate into this technology and move forward,

they will not add antennas and hopefully will be removing antennas. 

 

Mr. Pazdera noted the 9/8/06 Schoor DePalma letter.  Mr. Benner noted Item #1 has

already been addressed.  He noted Item #2 and stated they have indicated that they will

clarify the number of cables inside and outside of the pole at the Building Permit stage.

He stated they will comply with Item #3.  Item #4 was noted, and Mr. Benner stated they

will discuss the Performance Bond with the Township solicitor.  Mr. Donaghy stated the

purpose of the Bond is to have funds available to remove the facility if it is no longer

needed.  He stated the Bond would only apply to their particular Application and not to

the tower or the existing facilities. 

 

Mr. Dickson expressed concern with the concrete pad.  He stated it appears that the only

physical addition is the 10’ by 16’ concrete pad since the tower already exists and they

are only adding another antenna array.  He stated they are asking if they can construct a

10’ by 16’ pad on which they will place six cabinets.  He asked what would happen in the

future if the technology were to progress to the point where a number of the cabinets

were no longer needed.  Mr. Parsia stated while they are leasing space large enough for

six cabinets, they will initially only have two cabinets although they will have a 10’ by

16’ pad.  Mr. Parsia stated this would provide room for four additional cabinets. 

Mr. Dickson stated it is possible that at some point in the future, they may not need the

cabinets.  Mr. Benner stated there is nothing in the immediate future to suggest that

wireless communication is going to change significantly, although there have been

improvements made.  He stated there are provisions for removal in the Site Agreement

and with Lower Makefield Township.  He stated there is nothing about this Application

that expands the currently-built compound where Sprint and Cingular have their cabinets

on a similar pad. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if there are any hazards with regard to the tower that have been found

in the past that have not been addressed here.  Mr. Benner stated this issue was addressed

in 1998 to the satisfaction of Lower Makefield Township when they approved the

installation of the tower.  He stated there is nothing about the Application that in any way

affects the tower. He stated they are following the Lower Makefield Telecommunications

Ordinance which was drafted to encourage co-location in order to make use of existing

high structures.  Mr. Cylinder stated they are adding weight to the tower and more wind

resistance.  Mr. Benner stated this is why they are required to prove that the tower has

adequate capacity to accommodate the additional wind load, and the Township also has a

Building Code that requires that the installation of the antennas to the mounting platform

meets certain wind load requirements.  He stated T-Mobile, like the other two carriers,

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 7 of 10

 

 

will satisfy those requirements.  He stated Lower Makefield Township requirements are

similar to other Municipalities in the area.  He stated before a Building permit is issued,

the Applicant files Plans and structural reports; and the Building Department reviews the

information, and not until they are satisfied that the standards of the Building Code have

been met, will a Permit be issued.  Mr. Benner stated the structural report shows that the

tower with nine antennas will consume 63% of the tower’s capacity.  He is not sure what

three additional antennas will add, but he does not feel it would impact it negatively.

 

Mr. Cylinder asked if the tower is inspected on a regular basis; and Mr. Benner stated

American Tower is obliged to maintain it, and T-Mobile will send out technicians to the

site every three to four months as do the other co-locaters.  He stated the monopole

towers have survived numerous natural occurrences such as hurricanes, etc. 

Mr. Cylinder asked about lightening strikes, Mr. Benner stated they provide a level of

safety because the towers are grounded; and since they are the highest structures, they

actually serve as the neighborhood lightening rod. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated Mr. Benner indicated that they will initially have only two equipment

cabinets, but the drawing only shows one with twelve antennas.  Mr. Pazdera stated he

feels there should be a consistent Application.  Mr. Benner stated he feels the drawing on

C-2 was intended to be a schematic drawing.   Mr. Benner stated these are Conditional

Use drawings; and Mr. Pazdera stated while he recognizes this, he is concerned that the

Application has inconsistencies, and he would like to know specifically what will be

constructed.  Mr. Benner stated the Zoning drawings on Sheet S-1 show the maximum

build-out for the site.  Mr. Pazdera asked what they are building initially when they

install the antennas, and Mr. Parsia stated there will be two equipment cabinets. 

Mr. Pazdera questioned why the drawings show one.  Mr. Benner stated there will be a

later Application. 

 

Mr. Cylinder asked why they would not change the drawings now.  Mr. Benner stated if

this is a concern, they would agree that the Final Conditional Use drawings will show an

amendment to Sheet C-2. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated he would like the drawings to be consistent.  He stated the structural

report indicates the pole is 118’ but they have indicated it is 122’ feet.  He is concerned

that these inconsistencies should have been taken care of before they came to the

Planning Commission.  He stated he is concerned since they had this same problem with

this tower previously where there were inconsistencies.

 

Mr. Donaghy asked if they are requesting approval at this time for six cabinets, and

Mr. Benner stated they are asking Conditional Use Approval for the use.  He stated as the

site developers out, T-Mobile will have to apply for and receive Building Permits.

 

 

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 8 of 10

 

 

Ms. Frick stated this is the first Application that she has seen this way and any

Conditional Use Approval she has seen has always been for exactly what was wanted as

far as shelters, antennas, etc. are concerned; and the Conditional Use Plans have always

governed the Building Permits she has issued.  She stated this is true for all towers and

not just the one under discussion.  She stated she has never had one in stages like this one

being presented.

 

Mr. Donaghy asked if by emphasizing “use” Mr. Benner is indicating that any approval

received from the Board of Supervisors will apply only to the “use” and not the

configuration of the number of antennas, cabinets, etc.  Mr. Benner stated this

Application is unusual as they do have the inconsistency between what the structural

report indicates and what the Zoning drawings indicate, and he has been trying to fashion

a way to reconcile that inconsistency and still allow T-Mobile to address their immediate

need to close the gap in their service.  In this instance he is asking that the Township

approve the Conditional Use on the grounds that there be no more than twelve antennas

and six cabinets with the understanding that there will be two Applications for two

Permits – the initial Permit and the subsequent Permit.  Mr. Donaghy stated it is clear that

there will have to be additional Permits as they have not supplied the information to date

to support twelve antennas.  Mr. Donaghy stated it also appears that there is an

inconsistency in the Plans between S-1 and C-2 with regard to the cabinets, and

Mr. Benner stated this can be corrected before they go before the Board of Supervisors.

 

Mr. Frick stated in the past the Planning Commission was involved in a discussion

of colors, shutter types, etc. in several other Applications. 

 

Mr. Pazdera stated while he does not have a concern moving this on to the Board of

Supervisors, he wants to be assured that when the Supervisors see it, things will be

consistent and covered.  Mr. Benner stated the number of cabinets will be addressed prior

to the Board of Supervisors, but he does not feel that they will have the structural report

by that time since T-Mobile has no control over this.  Mr. Donaghy stated at this time it

would appear that the structural report would only justify nine antennas although that is

not to say that twelve may not be possible; but the report at this time only supports nine. 

He noted the Planning Commission could make a recommendation with conditions

attached, and he provided suggested conditions of Approval.

 

Ms. Friedman asked if there are going to be more towers in the Township in the future,

but no one was aware of anything specific.  Ms. Frick stated there is land set aside in the

Overlay District. 

 

Mr. Dickson asked when the tower was constructed; and Mr. Benner stated the

Conditional Use Approval was in 1998, and the tower was constructed shortly thereafter. 

Mr. Dickson stated the Township has been considering the possible expansion of

Trenton-Mercer Airport and another runway or a larger runway.  He asked if anyone has

September 11, 2006                                                     Planning Commission – page 9 of 10

 

 

looked into the possibility of the need in the future for a flashing light on the tower if the

runway is expanded.  Mr. Benner stated he cannot speak for American Tower, but in

1998 when Lower Makefield authorized the construction of the tower, they required

Comcast, the Applicant at that time, to show that the tower met FAA safety standards;

and they did.  He stated he could not speculate on the future.  Mr. Bush stated he does not

feel they are discussing expansion of the runways at Trenton-Mercer, and are only

considering expanding the terminal facilities.  He stated the runways are already quite

large.

 

Mr. Bush stated he feels there is a concern with the number of towers throughout the

Township, and he feels it is good that they are putting their antennas on an existing tower

provided the discrepancies that have been noted are rectified. 

 

Ms. Friedman moved, Mr. Pazdera seconded and it was unanimously carried to

recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Conditional Use Application,

Plans dated 3/17/06, last revised 7/27/06 subject to compliance with the Schoor DePalma

letter dated 9/18/06.  It is recommended that Approval of the Conditional Use be for

construction of an antenna platform and up to six cabinets and that there be no more than

nine antenna on the platform unless they provide additional information to the Township

and the Board of Supervisors to support a maximum of twelve antennas.  Plans should be

amended so that they are consistent with regard to the number of cabinets, location, and

height of the pole.

 

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Mr. Dickson stated at the Board of Supervisors meeting on September 6, the Traffic

Advisory Committee asked that a representative from the Board of Supervisors and from

the Planning Commission attend a joint meeting with Newtown Township tomorrow

evening at 8:00 p.m. to discuss the potential impact the Veterans Cemetery would have

on the traffic patterns on Dolington and Lindenhurst Roads as it would impact Lower

Makefield Township.  Ms. Friedman and Mr. Dickson indicated that they plan to attend

this meeting. 

 

Mr. Pazdera thanked Mr. Majewski for his help in preparing the information they

presented at Community Pride Day.  Mr. Smith thanked those who were present that day

who helped publicize the work done by the Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Pazdera stated the next meeting of the Planning Commission to be held on 9/25/06

will be dedicated to Matrix provided the Township receives the Plans.

 

 

 

September 11, 2006                                                   Planning Commission – page 10 of 10

 

 

There being no further business, Mr. Bush moved, Mr. Dickson seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Tony Bush, Secretary