With the summer season over, crews have removed a large, temporary wireless communications tower from the parking lot of the Pioneer Hose Fire Company’s second station along Route 35, across from the popular Used to Be’s bar and restaurant.
In its place, approved last year, will be a permanent monopole that will stand 96-feet tall and be used not only for commercial wireless providers but to expand the reliability of emergency communications on the barrier island, which has become home to a larger year-round population in recent years. The temporary tower had stood 76-feet tall.
The tower, approved in 2022, consists of a 90-foot pole plus a 6-foot lightning rod on top. The pole will house both Verizon Wireless equipment as well as new communications antennas for the township’s emergency services. The township township’s barrier island was marked as an area in need in planning documents, bolstering the need for the structure. Emergency services nationally are also implementing changes to frequencies and bandwidth spectrum. Commercial providers, as well, have deployed 5G networks that can often be slowed down from bandwidth issues, even when signal coverage is optimal. The companies have linked the issue to the popularity of streaming devices as well as the trend of teleconferencing as more people work from home.
It took more than a year’s worth of zoning board meetings to get the tower approved. A number of residents proposed Verizon Wireless, which will operate a 5G network array from the tower alongside the emergency communications equipment for the township, operate a “small cell” network of utility pole-mounted nodes on the barrier island instead. Ironically, a similar “small cell” network pitched by Verizon in neighboring Lavallette has faced the opposite criticism, wherein residents have said they would rather have one higher tower instead of nodes mounted to utility poles.
Regardless, the base for the tower has been set up and it is expected construction on the new tower, which will be set beside Route 35’s northbound lanes, will begin soon.