BELMAR, N.J. — A battle is brewing as residents fight to keep 5G wireless sites away from the beach and boardwalk in Belmar.
There’s a grassroots effort underway to stop Verizon.
Monday was a perfect day for a game of spikeball on the beach, or to stroll on the inviting Belmar Boardwalk.
“I love coming here and getting my steps,” Jackson resident Michelle Stern said. “It’s beautiful.”
But the aesthetic might change if Verizon gets it way. Plans are in place to install 20 small 5G poles beside the Boardwalk along Ocean Avenue. Upon completion, they’d climb 30 feet high in the sky.
“I think it would kill the vibe a little bit. It would kill the look for sure,” Stern said.
Joe Lustig does not live in Belmar, but has heard all about Verizon’s plan.
“I sure have. Everybody I’ve talked to who lives here has mentioned it to me,” Lustig said.
“How will that change the experience for you?” CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock asked.
“It’s hard to say before they’re really up,” Belmar resident Nick Waszkielewicz said.
Many Belmar residents are making their mission to stop Verizon. A banner on Ocean Avenue shouts “STOP VERIZON – NO 5G Towers on Belmar Beach.” Lawn signs line streets. A Change.org petition has nearly 2,500 signatures. Local Caitlin Donovan started the grassroots effort.
“I grew up on this beach, and we feel like living on the beach is not living next to Disney World. We’re not here for entertainment. We’re here because we love this beach and we’re environmental stewards,” Donovan said. “We think constructing the towers here will ruin the character of our boardwalk.”
She led a week of action, encouraged residents to reach out to their congressman, county engineer and Verizon.
A spokesperson for Verizon told CBS2, “The final design and placement of these poles maximize technical and community needs… locations have been extensively vetted and approved by the Township over the last five years.”
No township here, said Borough of Belmar Mayor Gerald Buccafusco. He called the 5G poles overkill and hopes a consent agreement between Verizon and Borough signed in Summer 2022, during the former administration, does not hold water.
“We discovered that the road Ocean Avenue is a county road and they own the right of way,” Buccafusco said. “They really needed to deal with Monmouth County rather than Belmar to get approval to do this.”
Buccafusco said the borough informed Verizon of the find, and has not heard back.
The borough also hired an attorney to help them win the battle over 5G poles
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