Our Cellphones Die But We Don’t Care

Today’s NY Times includes this story about the people of Mendham, NJ, who have fought in vain to keep Verizon from putting up a cell tower to improve reception in the hilly rich-people’s burg. Despite dead spots, neighbors are against a new tower–except one man:

“Ms. Wood’s neighbor, Sammy Barsa, however, stands to reap a sizable windfall. The tower will be placed on an edge of Mr. Barsa’s property that adjoins Ms. Wood’s, and the carriers are likely to pay him more than $60,000 a year to lease the land.

“You have to look at who it’s going to benefit,” Mr. Barsa said. “It will benefit everyone in town. There’s a pain and there’s a gain.”

Town officials had recommended alternative sites on municipal property, which they considered less obtrusive and which would have generated revenue for the town.

But Verizon Wireless rejected the town’s suggestions, arguing that Mr. Barsa’s property made the most sense because of the stretch of road the carriers needed to cover.

In the end, Richard Krieg, the mayor of Mendham Township, said, the town felt outspent and outmaneuvered by the carriers’ legal and technical resources. “We didn’t have access to the consulting engineers they had,” he said.

Mr. Barsa, meanwhile, has become the town’s persona non grata – at least among the anti-tower camp. Lydia Schutte, who lives down the road from where the tower will be built. “He doesn’t go to neighborhood gatherings any more.”