In 1995, the Commission amended the height restrictions established in the Comprehensive Management Plan in recognition of what had, at that time, already become a legitimate need: the provision of wireless communications services throughout the United States and within the Pinelands. Accordingly, local communications facilities, which provide wireless communication services, were permitted to exceed the normal 35-foot height limit where a comprehensive plan for the installation of such facilities throughout the entire Pinelands Area has been approved by the Commission. The amended regulations recognized that well-designed and integrated wireless communications networks can greatly reduce the unnecessary proliferation of wireless communications structures throughout the Pinelands Area, and, most importantly, in its most conservation-oriented areas. To that end, the amendments adopted by the Commission included requirements for the use of existing structures wherever feasible, co-location on existing structures and new towers by all local communications facility providers and minimization of visual impacts from roads, recreation facilities, existing residential development, river corridors and special Pinelands resources such as the Forked River Mountains and the Pine Plains pygmy forests. Notably, the amendments also required that facilities proposed in the more ecologically-important management areas (the Preservation Area District, Special Agricultural Production Area, Forest Area and certain Pinelands Villages) be the least number necessary to provide adequate service.
Based on the 1995 regulations, the Commission approved the Comprehensive Plan for Wireless Communications Facilities in the Pinelands in 1998 and a subsequent amendment, the Comprehensive Plan for PCS Facilities in the Pinelands, in 2000. Together, these two plans proposed 22 new towers in the million-acre Pinelands region and the installation of antenna on approximately 75 existing towers or other structures.
The Commission has since approved four additional amendments: the AT&T Wireless amendment in 2003; the T-Mobile Amendment in 2011; the Office of Information Technology amendment in 2012; and the Sprint Amendment in 2013. The Office of Information Technology amendment was a comprehensive plan for public safety towers, meant to eliminate critical gaps in public safety communications coverage areas. In total, the four approved amendments proposed the construction of 41 new towers.