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Neighbors Meet About Cell Tower Installation

Dozens of people attended a meeting in Holland Sunday evening to discuss the installation of communication towers in their neighborhoods.

Dozens of Northampton homeowners concerned about the crowded a meeting held at the Amsterdam Avenue home of Pat Sexton Sunday evening to meet with local politicians and to try to figure out what to do next to stop the installation of the towers.

The meeting started out in the basement of Sexton’s modest home and then was forced out onto her front lawn due to the larger-than-expected turnout.

Once outside, State Representative Scott Petri said he was in contact with an attorney from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The lawyer told Petri that the owner of the poles, American Tower Corporation, had the right under federal law to install the poles due to a FCC ruling from the 1990s and it would be hard to win a case against ATC as they are properly licensed and are complying with-in the bounds of the FCC ruling.

The FCC ruling from 1996 “prohibits any action that would ban altogether the construction, modification or placement of these kinds (cellular, wide-area SMR and broadband PCS) of facilities in a particular area.”

Resident Ed Cotton wondered out loud if this meant the issue was “settled” and there was nothing else that could be done to stop the poles.

“England said it was settled in 1776,” resident Ed Bendzlowicz fired back. He was referring to the year America - the underdog - declared its independence from England during the Revolutionary War.

Residents voiced their dismay over the fact that many of them did not find out that the nearly 60 poles outfitted nodes used for mobile communication devices would be installed in their yards and along their streets until they started finding white circles on their lawns, paper hangers on their doors, and vague letters stating some facts about the project in their mailboxes about a week before installation began.

Many felt the township let them down by failing to inform them so they could have been involved in the fight to stop ATC.

“We screwed up,” Northampton Board of Supervisors Chairman Frank Rothermel admitted to the crowd. He was referring to the fact that the community was not made more aware of the situation sooner and that the township, which sued ATC over the issue and lost, had not done more to try to stop the company from getting permission to install the poles.

“We want this stopped,” yelled one woman.

Rothermel said the township could not get ATC to take a pole down once it is up. However, he wanted see what could be done to prevent this in the future and if he could help the people who got “screwed.”

A man across the crowd yell that he wanted an injunction filed to try to stop the current installation of the towers. His peers in the audience clapped in agreeance.

Later in the meeting, several residents agreed to contact lawyer Stephen Harris to see if they could make a case to stop the installation of the poles on their properties and in their neighborhoods.

Almost all those in attendance agreed the township they pay taxes to and which they feel did not try hard enough to stop the poles from being installed should foot the legal fees they incur. Rothermel agreed to look into it.

Ed Bendzlowicz voiced his opinion that if the residents had to cover the cost of a lawyer, he would make it his job to make sure every member of the current board of supervisors were voted out of office come the next election cycle.

Some of the most upset residents live in communities that have all underground utilities and the new poles will be an eyesore and lower their property values.

As the meeting continued and the sun began to disappear for the evening, several residents offered suggestions of an occupy type protest in hopes of causing delays in putting up the poles.

“Make them lock us up. Let’s blow this up,” said one retiree who offered to block installation crews in hopes of getting more media attention put on the issue.

Sunday’s meeting, which was tense at times, was organized late last week by residents through talking to neighbors and social media, organizers said.

Rothermel said the board is organizing a special meeting that will be held early next week to discuss the issue and what happens next.

Just B. Cause May 11, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Does anyone know why community activist Shop N' Bag owner Murray Battleman isn't weighing in on this issue? With his past history of trying to do what's right for the citizens of Northampton I would think he'd be the first to bring his clout and resources to bear in favor of the residents.
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Caren, The truth is that on the advice of Franks Rothermels (D) hand picked democrat solicitor the board voted to REVERSE my decision to fight ATC. Party politics? Yes! I am proud that republicans, for all of our faults, fight very hard to keep the ATC's of the world out of Northampton Township. Also Caren, Supervisors were unable to speak about a lawsuit until a decision was made. The time for communication to begin should have been in January. Not a vote but open communication. Rothermel's solicitor told the board to reverse the decision the republicans made to fight this issue. Those are the facts! No bashing. KEEP UP THE FIGHT!! Call me. VJD 215-603-5955
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Mr. Holland Native, This is the first time in the history of cell towers in Northampton Township that the township does not receive monthly payments. This does effect you. ATC paid a one time fee to pay off the Townships legal bills. Be nice. People have every right to oppose this. VJD 215 603 5955
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Amen!
Holland native May 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Vincent J. Deon, I think you are addressing me by mistake . . . My post was in reply to Chandler Beckham, who was nastily accusing us of being rich, white, elitists. I have been opposing this since day 1 and was at SuperFresh collecting signatures on petitions yesterday. And I know it affects me . . . a cell tower is going up 4 houses down from me! Just setting the record straight, you're lecturing the wrong person :). And P.S. . . . I'm a girl :).
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Dear Carmen Sense (great name), Read between the lines a little if possible. I am not proud of the bickering that occurred on my watch. It is very difficult to maintain decorum when there is an organized and consistent group that Mr. Rothermel brings to each meeting whose sole mission is to embarrass and heckle George & Eileen. I must admit those clowns got to me a few times since Frank began to orchestrate his circus. Looking back my responses to the personal attacks against me and my family could have been better handled. I encourage you and everyone to attend BOS meeting to witness your government in action. The taxpayer is paying dearly for the antics of our new democrat chairman- 1 . Against a court order he allowed an illegal building to stand and forgave $100,000 (at least) potential settlement to the taxpayers. 2. ATC is the only CELL TOWER company that is NOT paying a monthly fee to the taxpayers. All other cell towers pay rent to the township! ALL OTHERS PAY! 3. Do not let there be a 3rd! Your insight about Cunningham's silly, juvenile and ridiculous, resolution tells me you pay attention. Maybe it is time for new leadership. Get involved. Find a candidate to run for supervisor. I hope that she/he is a nice republican. GET INVOLVED! STAY INVOLVED! VJD 215 603 5955
Hillcrestshire May 11, 2012 at 02:59 PM
There is a simple reason why they notify us about camps, music in the park, etc. Not only do we benefit with those notifications, they do by appearing to do their jobs and offer activities to the residents. No one can then say they don't do anything, and they can take the credit for something nice. When it's not something nice they are providing, they can't get credit for it, they know it's wrong, and it only benefits THEMSELVES, they won't notify the residents. They'll keep it quiet, make the deal, and get the dinner(s), gift card(s), paid vacation, check, or whatever it is they are receiving as a group gift for doing good "business" on the side. Be careful at this meeting on Monday, with how you walk away from it and perceive what occurs. Apparently, ATC will be there. The twp and ATC have known for a week how upset the residents are. They had ample time to get their stories straight and attempt to come with "reasonable" answers for everything through their lawyers and advisors. Remember, the deal (as far as their concerned) is done. Unless they come in with guns blazing and openly challenge ATC's towers and tell us they're appealing, it will be a show. They are there because they have no choice with all the heat, which is the same heat we should of been able to bring if we knew in the first place. They are just going to listen to us vent. Politely listen to them, but know they're full of it.
Hillcrestshire May 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Also, as it is increasingly apparent the whole Board shares the blame, they may say anything, and I mean anything, to imply they were acting with good intentions based on the info they had. That is BS!! They are in a position to say anything they want now, because the deal is done (to the extent they are installing the poles and we are forced to organize and appeal), and we don't know anything that was said behind closed doors to this point. They know we don't know much, if anything, so they can make up any story and try to sell it. How can we prove this or that didn't occur. We really can't and they know it. In their minds, the only thing they can do is tell us why they made the decision they made. They are going to act like they are all knowing and had knowledge we may be naive about. Don't let them manipulate us, with everyone involved in this deal up front at the meeting together trying to smart and better than us. As many have said, any one of them would do their best to make sure this isn't on their property. The issue is not complicated. It is simple, and for that reason, it should of been a no-brainer to appeal the court, or let us know in the first place. Don't let them get away with it. Listen politely, but know we have to move forward no matter what they say. They are looking out for their personal and political interest, and that has been the primary thing that's clear here. The only thing they should say at the mtg is...we are going to appeal!
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 04:22 PM
M. Just B. Cause (another great name) ATC is not competition for the SNB. No one can deny Mr. Battlemans commitment to keep his customers. He is a good man and has helped this community a lot over the years. VJD 215-603-5955
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Ms. Caren, It greatly saddens me that no other republican supervisor had the testicular fortitude to ignore their new, and uninformed, solicitor’s opinion and carry on the fight against ATC which began while I was in office. In an effort to reconcile and be peacemaking they contributed in the terrible decision to allow ATC to install cell towers in our neighborhoods. The people spoke in November and voted me (and my open leadership style) out of office. My argument to fight ATC through the entire adjudication process was immediately and purposely ignored by the new chair and his solicitor. I let you down and I am sorry for that. I was not aware that a decision was made or I would have attended the January meeting to insist that the board appeal ANOTHER Judge Bateman decision against our great township. When I saw it on TV my wife had to resuscitate me and pick me up off of the floor! • This became political January 3 2012. • This is a LEADERSHIP issue. • This is a confidence issue. All that's left is lip service and cognitive dissonance (justification that resolves conflicts between expectations and reality). In other words - more words, stories and excuses. Who gets fired here? The township manager who was clear that we should stay the course of the appeal or Rothermel's solicitor who rushed the board to make a bad decision without appealing to the public? Someone has to go. STAY INVOLVED! Regards, VJD 215-603-5955
Just B. Cause May 11, 2012 at 05:35 PM
If the negatives of living in the township begin to add up and outweigh the positives, Mr. Battleman won't have any customers left to keep.
LoveThePatch May 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Thank you Northampton Patch for providing the means to communicate the concerns of the community! I can only wish I would see comments from sitting supervisors their position on this topic. Personally I feel the residents are alone and in need of a supervisor advocate that could organize and unite the community against ATC. This is the time for leadership from other than the chairman seat who has abandoned us in our mission. Who will stand up and be counted?
Vincent J. Deon May 11, 2012 at 08:32 PM
M. LoveThePatch, Good luck. Call the current chairman at 215-435-0552. Story time begins @ 7:30 at the Richboro Middle School Tuesday May 15. SPECIAL MEETING COSTS (Conservative) Videographer - $2,000.00 Attorney - 600.00 Engineer- 300.00 Staff - comp time or o/t OVER $ 3,000.00 for the chairman to dig a deeper hole. Wear your boots! VJD 215-603 5955
Hillcrestshire May 11, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Exactly!! There is a root to every problem. Look at any area, anywhere, that has declined. It didn't happen overnight. At one time, people could not fathom - or simply not believe - it could happen in their neighborhood. Then boom, out of nowhere, poles on your front lawn. Refer to the "broken windows theory" everyone. Like graffiti, now you have an eyesore that's tolerated. Like graffiti, if they are leaving these eyesore poles in place, what else can I (or name a company) get away with putting there. The poles are allowed, so why not something else, because the court says so. That's exactly why the court has to be appealed. Do our officials sincerely believe our township will be more desirable than ones without these poles in the future? No, because the type of townships that prevent this from happening will be able to maintain their ability in keeping their township desirable overall, in every decision they make based on a strong stand against these type of things.
Michael B May 11, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I can envision a billboard, or some signs going up, right near the 43 foot towers with Vincent Deon’s picture on it, with the caption underneath: “Miss me yet?” Vince, if you had been fighting this all along then it looks like we make an error in allowing the D’s to gain control of the Board. One thing I didn’t like when the R’s had control was their refusal to address the citizen’s concerns and limiting the resident’s speech. I think folks were looking for a change, but if this is the direction that we are heading as a result, I think we should reverse course and get people back on the Board that know what the hell they are doing, and will not allow any outsiders to transform us into looking like a city. Hillcrestshire is correct. If we give them an inch today, they’ll take a yard tomorrow, until Northampton becomes unrecognizable.
Living the Bucks Life May 12, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I am reading these comments and it makes me want to throw up with Deon's responses. If he (you) were so "on" then why were you voted out. Obviously the majority spoke. Also, if you were doing such a great job fighting the towers, why didn't we know about it until now. Hmmmm. Politically motivated one might ask. Let's look back, did we know about the $1M fountain some call Carbon Monoxide Park before it was built. Did we get a say? Oh, there is also the brick lined Township Road, the most underutilized road in NH Township. I recall that price tag at $3/4M. Did we get a say on that project either? Deon, reread you comments before you submit them. Some of them sound really lame coming from a former leader that was voted out - because we had a say. Most importantly, having leaders that respect the citizens and allow them to speak at meetings is a start. Um - right, you and your compadres shut down everyone mid sentence, if you even allowed them to speak at all. Get copies of your regimes meetings and see how disgraceful they were. Last but not least, as I said before, screw party affiliation and make things right. It is proven that Rep or Dem, this township has serious issues on electing qualified officials.
Hillcrestshire May 12, 2012 at 02:36 AM
I agree. There is a lot of waste. Unfortunately, political positions attract a large amount of people in love with being in love with themselves. However, I don't think anyone assigning blame or rehashing the past will allow us to move forward effectively, and learn from this.
Hillcrestshire May 12, 2012 at 04:12 AM
To be clear, I don't believe assigning blame by political party lines will be effective.
Hillcrestshire May 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Everything starts somewhere. Minor indications of neglect by the township may add up one day, after starting a chain reaction of more negative issues we're advised to accept as the unfortunate reality. Don't trick yourself into believing it can never, ever happen here. Never say never. These poles are like the grass left to grow too long, when you look at the township as a whole. http://pathawayhomes.com/post/2990929/the-broken-window-theory-a-call-to-action-for-the-real-estate-community-
Jerrold S. Bass May 13, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Dear Just Because, In regard to your question as to the whereabouts of Murray Battleman, I am a neibhbor of his and he is currently away on vacation and will not be returning untile later this monbth. I have left a message for him on his return. Perhaps he will weigh in at that time. He is a fine man and cares deeply about our community.
Vincent J. Deon May 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Mr. Michael B. Get involved! Lets find some like minded candidates to take back our township in 2013! We are being humiliated in Bucks County and beyond. VJD
Erik May 14, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I wanted natural gas on my street. Why would I want this. To me you don't own your home. You should be protected from something like this. Erik Shool house rd
Mike May 15, 2012 at 07:12 AM
If either the Township or ATC gave a $5000 tax-free check to anyone who has or will have a tower on their property, would that "work" or be an acceptable solution?
Living the Bucks Life May 15, 2012 at 10:09 AM
Mike, I am sure there would be many, many, many residents that would line up for a pole and the $5000 check. Maybe they would offer the poles in designer colors too.
Beacon Hill May 16, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I watch many BOS meetings and am routinely appalled at O'Neil. This guy is a bored, prob retired, rabble rouser that likes to hear himself talk. He likes to pose as a republican but all his attacks are at republicans. Bottom line, this guy is no fit for Northampton. We should be greatful he wasnt elected  We need real leaders in this township, not actors!
Vincent J. Deon May 17, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Mr. Beacon Hill, Amen! VIncent Deon 215-603-5955
Living the Bucks Life May 18, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I have seen O'Neil on other meetings and topics. I didn't get to watch the latest. Sometime I wonder where this guy is coming from but at other times he gets everyone thinking. Its not so bad having a 'devil's advocate' at meetings. They are great or green-light sessions. Getting ideas on the table. No interruptions, no mocking. Listening to everyone. Great ideas and solutions often come out of the most inane (not insane) comments. So instead of bashing public comments and people, let's take something good away from them. It seems the residents are figuring out what we DO NOT want. Now let's figure what we do want, put a plan in action, get the right people in office to exeute those plans. Simple isn't it. Ok, so maybe not.
Beacon Hill May 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I only brought him up because an earlier post wrote about how he was a good rep for the township. In my humble opinion, no good has come from Rothermel/Cunningham since they were elected. They are about divisiveness and playing up for the cameras. Let's treat people like people. Everybody wants the same things in Northampton. Discuss matters and vote. It's not national politics.
Living the Bucks Life May 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Just to vote in. The mobile reception at my house is horrible regardless of the carrier. I happen to have T-mobile. I volunteer to have a pole placed at the rear of my yard as long as I am guaranteed 100% perfect reception. Not 100% - remove it!
Local Resident June 16, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Are they planning on removing the cell towers they installed last month?

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