Residents Square Off Over Proposed Mahwah Cell Phone Tower

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey neighborhood plagued with dropped cell phone calls may finally be getting help — but the solution has been proposed before and some residents still aren’t happy with it.

When it comes to cell phone communication, people living in one Mahwah neighborhood say it’s tough.

“A lot of times I drop calls right as I make that turn there,” resident Jean Stewart says. “And then even in my place it’s okay but it’s not great.”

Mahwah Mayor William Laforet says the one-mile radius surrounding the Number 3 Fire Company station house near Masonicus Road is a dead zone for cell service.

It’s a major concern for police patrolling the neighborhood who rely on their mobile laptops, and anyone trying to use their cell phones to call for help.

He says an emergency in the area during tomorrow’s storm could be disastrous.

“Tomorrow you were locked in your house, right? You’re hopeless now, with no communication,” he told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.

“I’m the mayor of a town that has the responsibility to provide a safe work environment for our officers and the community,” he continued. “I can’t say without that component of cell service that we are absolutely doing everything we can.”

After past failed attempts, the town is again proposing to improve cell service in the dead zone by building a 150-foot cell tower on the firehouse property.

Bill Almonte lives right next to it and says he’s totally against the plan.

“Definitely in this area surrounded by a bunch of homes, a lot of little kids int his area I just don’t make any sense,” he said. “So hopefully they’re not seriously considering putting it right next to Fire Company Number 3.”

His wife, Anna, agrees.

“We enjoy our backyard and we certainly don’t want to be looking at something like a massive tower in our backyard,” she said. “Especially when there are other options.”

Some residents say the need for a tower can’t be denied, so they’re suggesting it be built in wooded areas further away from residential neighborhoods.

“I understand these people here and I also understand the need for it,” Kathy Brewster of Mahwah said. “But it has to go up to matter, where they decide to put it.”

Mayor Lafolet says he had a meeting with providers scheduled for Tuesday to discuss other possible tower locations or solutions to the dead zone, but that has been rescheduled due to the incoming storm.

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