Rep. Smith Introduces Legislation To Empower Local Residents Concerned By 5G Towers

As concerns continue to mount over Verizon’s plans to install twenty 30-foot towers along the boardwalk in Belmar, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Manchester) today introduced legislation (HR 8082) that would empower local residents impacted by proposed 5G projects and would rein in the power of telecommunication giants to fast track their rollout of 5G wireless, steamrolling community opposition in the process.

Specifically, Smith’s bill would nullify two administrative regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2018 that unfairly advantage industry by imposing “shot clocks” and other tools that limit the input of town and county governments when it comes to the construction and proliferation of the significant infrastructure needed to advance 5G wireless.

“My legislation will repeal these harmful regulations that have been exploited by providers to limit county and municipal governments—and blatantly disregard reasonable concerns of local citizens,” said Smith. “HR 8082 will restore the critical role that residents should play when considering the health, safety and aesthetic of their community,” said Smith.

Smith’s legislation comes as the legal battle over Verizon’s aggressive push to install 20 5G towers in Belmar ramps up. Just last month, a group of Belmar residents joined Monmouth County in ongoing litigation regarding the 30-foot towers, citing concerns over the potential detrimental impact on the aesthetic quality of their neighborhood, the local environment and wildlife, and their property values.

“The implementation of 5G can help our economy and telecommunications networks, but it cannot and should not be done at the expense of valued local input or under unreasonable time restraints,” said Smith. “There can and should be a balance between the concerns and needs of the local community and the desires of providers of utility and telecommunication services.”

In a letter to Verizon last year, Smith urged the telecommunications giant to heed the extensive concerns of the local community and rescind its plan to install 20 5G towers in Belmar. Smith penned the letter as Verizon’s push to install the 5G towers in Belmar entered a new phase with the telecommunications corporation turning its sights to the County of Monmouth—the lawful owner of the boardwalk property—after wrongfully suing the Borough of Belmar for access to the land.

“American democracy is supposed to be about the consent of the governed,” said Smith.

“Clearly, there is no consent here and we again implore Verizon to work with the correct authority—i.e. the County—to reexamine the substantial objections raised by members of the local community and respond with transparency and consideration for Belmar residents, Belmar’s tourism, and those of the other shore municipalities along the coast of NJ.”

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