Council pulls wireless installation ordinance amendment

Remediation of Erlton pump station failure is addressed.

At its most recent public meeting, Cherry Hill Township Council decided on second reading to pull an ordinance that would have amended a previous code  related to the installation of wireless telecommunications equipment. 

“This ordinance is being pulled and is subject to further review of some of the technical aspects of it,” Council President David Fleisher said during an April 12 virtual session. “Two things will happen: If it’s substantially the same, we will move ahead at our next meeting or at a subsequent meeting; if there are more substantive changes, it will be reintroduced at a future meeting.”

Fleisher made it clear on March 22 that the township would not be able to fully address the issue to either its own satisfaction or those of residents. A significant portion of laws governing such matters are mostly federal, with some state regulation, permitting signal-boosting mechanisms to improve service for an increasingly wired populace. 

Township Business Administrator Erin Patterson Gill admitted the township has limited ability to regulate wireless carriers, but the legislation in question would be able to manage small-cell wireless facilities. 

Language in the ordinance, as presented, would have required carriers to demonstrate service needs before installing the facilities. It would have also ensured that any small-cell facilities erected would meet certain aesthetic standards. 

According to Gill, federal law allows carriers to install the apparati in public rights of way, including utility poles. The township is not permitted to stop that from occurring, but can regulate the installations for the limited purpose of how they appear. 

Further wording sought to compel any company looking to install such equipment to provide a service map that demonstrates service gaps, and to justify the need for installation at a particular location. Carriers must locate equipment on existing poles before requesting to build new ones to house new equipment, and must adhere to strict standards when erecting a new pole, including that any new edifice would be a “stealth pole” that has the appearance of a street lamp.

The governing body initially passed the legislation, after first reading and public comment, at its prior virtual public session on March 22. 

The recent failure at the Erlton pump station was addressed by council, which passed a resolution retroactively authorizing an emergency contract to Di Meglio Construction of Atco for just over $60,000 to repair faulty infrastructure on site. 

In addition, the township also entered into a contract with Xylem Water Solutions of Malvern, Pennsylvania, for just under $49,000 to purchase a 6 inch Godwin transfer pump and additional accessories needed to complete the project. 

“This was a major failure at this pump station and it requires pretty extensive work. Repairs have been made and (the pump) has been upgraded as well,” Gill explained. 

The total for emergency appropriations, per Fleisher, was $108,863.48.

In other news:

  • Cherry Hill High School West Principal Kwame Morton was recognized with a proclamation, read by colleague and council member Carole Roskoph, for his selection as Visionary Principal of the Year by secondary supervisors associations at state and national levels.
  • Resident Lindsay Cunningham also received a proclamation for helping  more than 200 township seniors secure COVID vaccination appointments. 
  • Council also consented upon second reading to an ordinance granting the execution of a temporary construction easement to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the area located on the eastbound side of Route 70 at Kings Highway. Work is expected to last approximately eight months, given weather concerns and work progress. Per Fleisher, the state is expected to reimburse the township $500 for the first month and $100 per month thereafter.
  • A resolution was also passed for the township to purchase four new pickup trucks, along with an 8 foot snow plow and stainless steel spreader from Winner Ford of Cherry Hill for an amount not to exceed $214,108. The move was made to replace existing trucks that are at least 16 years or older.
  • Asphalt Paving of Hammonton was granted a state contract by council, for an amount not to exceed $270,645.06 and ending on July 9, to provide a micro-surfacing pavement system program that will supplement the township’s roads program.