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The historic Bell Labs horn antenna is in danger, according to the Holmdel Citizens Group

04. 12. 2022 Sunday / By: Robert Denes / Generic / Exact time: BST / Print this page

C itizens for Informed Land Use opposes the proposal submitted to the Planning Board to reclassify the former Nokia site for conversion purposes.

HOLMDEL, NJ - Citizens for Informed Land Use, Preserve Holmdel and others are fighting to preserve the Bell Labs Horn Antenna, which they say will be at risk if the 43 acres it stands on is rezoned for residential development.

The property at 791 Holmdel Road houses the Bell Labs Horn Antenna, once used by Bell Labs scientists Dr. Robert Wilson, who still lives in the township, and Dr. Arno Penzias to study microwave radiation beyond the Milky Way - says the organization.

The group also describes the site as the highest point in Monmouth County, with stunning views of Raritan Bay and Manhattan.

The scientists' "research confirmed the Big Bang theory as the origin of the universe, and in 1978 both men were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics," the land-use group said in a press release.

But on Nov. 22, the city commission approved a resolution directing the Planning Board to consider whether the former Nokia site on the Crawford Hill section of Holmdel - the site of the Horn Antenna - should be reclassified as a "redevelopment area."

On the December 6 agenda of the Holmdel Planning Board, there is a resolution that "instructs the township planner to prepare a study to determine whether the study area consisting of lots 6, 6.01 and 7 of Block 27 (the former Nokia site) should be e mark. A non-condemned area in need of renovation."

The actions set off alarm bells among the environmental protection community here, said Regina Criscione, co-president of Citizens for Informed Land Use, CILU.

Preserving the landmark of scientific discovery will be a concern not just for Holmdel and even the United States, but "for scientists around the world,"Criscione said. Karen Strickland is also the group's co-chair. Citizens for

Informed Land Use is proactively working to preserve the site for open space to protect the Horn antenna and the scientific history it represents, he added.

Nokia sold the property in January 2021 for $3.6 million to Rakesh Antala, the area's chief technology officer, said Douglas Twyman of Colliers International, who handled the transaction.

Twyman said Saturday that the site's zoning is currently restrictive and can only be zoned for a research facility.

Although he said that he continues to participate in projects in other areas with Antala, he does not know about the plans for the Holmdel site.

Twyman said Antala previously said he wanted to keep the horn antenna.

CILU said in a statement that the site is "an irreplaceable piece of Holmdel's celebrated scientific history," as is the land on which it sits.

Now he is circulating a petition online to preserve the area and the landmark. For more information about the petition, visit the organization's website.

According to the land use organization, the decision of the Municipal Committee at the November 22 meeting was classified as "exploratory" and "at a preliminary stage".

However, CILU says the action "bypasses the traditional tender process and suggests that this site may be planned for high-density housing in the near future".

In 1989, the Horn Antenna became a National Historic Landmark. Harvard physicist and Nobel laureate Edward Purcell said of the discovery, "It may be the most important thing you've ever seen," CILU said in a statement.

"If citizens can convince the city to reject residential development and set aside the 43-acre property, it can be preserved as a valuable historic site and desirable public park.

"While the Horn Antenna provides rich historical context, the site is also the highest point in Monmouth County, offering stunning views of Raritan Bay and Manhattan along a network of potential hiking and walking trails," the CILU press release said in person..

The Planning Board's decision before Tuesday, which instructs the town planner to prepare the study, "the Holmdel Village Commission 2022-307. prepared on the basis of the request and authorization of its decision no., which was adopted on November 22, 2022," states the item on the agenda of the Planning Council.

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