Statement from Councilman Mark Parmelee, Chair of the Code Review & Town Property Committee of the Town Council, Regarding PSE&G Lawsuit
WESTFIELD, NJ -- APRIL 11, 2022 -- On April 8, PSE&G filed a lawsuit disputing the basis of General Ordinance No. 2022-04, which was adopted by the Town Council on February 22. This ordinance is an amendment intended to both strengthen comprehensive standards and regulations for the installation of new small wireless facilities within the Town’s rights-of-way, and to better manage access to and use of our rights-of-way by utility companies. Simply put, it provides standards and regulations for how our public rights-of-way are used by utility companies and telecommunications providers so that work can be better managed, and is similar to what’s been passed in multiple other municipalities -- none of which, to our knowledge, have resulted in litigation from PSE&G.
As background, this ordinance had been in progress within the Town Council's Code Review & Town Property Committee for more than a year, initially intended to address the installation of new wireless facilities (i.e., 5G and other small-cell networks), and ultimately expanded in scope to include all traditional utility work in the public right-of-way. The Town Council believes that it is important to ensure that all work done on the public right-of-way is done properly and in accordance with what is best for our community.
Following the introduction of the ordinance, PSE&G reached out to the Town regarding their concerns with the ordinance and their intention to revisit 69kV upgrade plans along the South Avenue corridor in Westfield. We had several subsequent conversations reiterating our fundamental objection to the location of this project, and as our discussions continued, the lawsuit was apparently filed by PSE&G to preserve their ability to challenge the ordinance under the short period they are allowed by law.
That said, we believe that G.O. No. 2022-04 protects the Town's rights not only related to any proposed 69kV project, but also with any future utility upgrades, to ensure we can minimize any potential negative impacts to Westfield. We remain extremely concerned about the impact of the 69kV poles on our residents and businesses, as we have expressed to PSE&G. In this home-rule state, we fully intend to take all necessary legal action to vigorously defend the Town's interests, public right-of-way, and secure the best possible outcome for our community.
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