A Scotch Plains, NJ homeowner has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court to block the Town of Westfield’s plan to lease space to AT&T for the construction of a cell tower at the Conservation Center – an adjacent recycling compound.
David Munsky, whose home borders Westfield and the recycling facility’s property, claims the monopine will “tower over” his and other residential properties in Scotch Plains.
Munsky demands a judgment declaring Westfield’s resolution to lease space for erecting the monopine “arbitrary and capricious.”
He is also requesting a judgment that the monopine violates a stipulation with Scotch Plains, and Westfield should be required to consider other alternative locations.
Last month, Westfield’s Town Council approved the lease agreement with AT&T. The carrier would pay the town $45,000 a year with annual rent increases of 3% and additional rent to be received from other companies co-locating on the tower.
Also, the deal was sweetened by AT&T being required to provide a $100,000 contribution to fund a bathroom facility, additional parking, and other improvements for the Houlihan/Sid Fay sports complex where AT&T initially requested to build the monopine.
The town advertised bids for that location to other carriers and towercos, and when it came to opening the responses in August 2021, there were none.
The town then received feedback – most likely from AT&T – that the Westfield Conservation Center would be a more appropriate location, and a second bid was advertised with a September 2022 opening date.
However, only AT&T submitted a bid, and the town agreed on November 9, 2022, to a five-year lease, with four automatic five-year renewal periods.
Munsky’s lawsuit claims that Westfield ran afoul of its zoning and an agreement with Scotch Plains.
“The Property is in the RS-24 zone, which is single-family residential only, where the maximum height is 33.5 feet. In 1964, Westfield stipulated in a settlement with Scotch Plains that the Property would remain as is and would not contain any ‘industrial’ use,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit acknowledges that the Westfield zoning code states that “[a]ny use or development by the Town of Westfield shall be a permitted use in all zone districts and shall be exempt from the zoning regulations, design standards for subdivisions and site plans, and any requirement set forth in this ordinance to obtain site plan approval.”
Their argument is, “The tree monopole, however, will not be significantly used by Westfield and is not being developed by Westfield.”