Sunday March 10 12:00am The Record (Bergen County, NJ) Copyright 2002 Bergen Record Corporation Nextel Communications is making a third attempt to erect a set of rooftop antennas on busy Sylvan Avenue, where the company says it has a long-running cellular service gap. Nextel, which will appear before the Board of Adjustment on Monday, has challenged the board's rejection of two applications for different sites, claiming in a lawsuit that a pair of November decisions denying them violates a landmark federal law. A state Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear the complaint April 18. Since passage of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, municipalities around the country have had to defend their zoning laws against cellular phone companies, which gained new rights under the law to extend their wireless networks. In Englewood Cliffs^ case, Nextel takes issue with an ordinance that sets aside borough-owned property on Kahn Terrace as the sole site for new cellular towers and antennas. Other towns have passed similar legislation enabling them to collect lease fees for the use of their property. In an attempt to create an option, Borough Attorney E. Carter Corriston said he is amending a previously introduced ordinance to designate property beside the Palisades Parkway for cell antennas. He said that land is owned by a Catholic religious order. "This ordinance will provide them with a reasonable opportunity to place their antennas," Corriston said. "It's not like we're trying to deny people from putting up the antennas, but it has to be the proper place. " In its latest application, Nextel is seeking to to build an antenna array atop a building at 910 Sylvan Ave. However, if the board adheres to past logic, that application also seems likely to fail. "Our engineers feel it's an optimum site," Nextel spokeswoman Diane Rainey said. "We have a lot of corporate customers in that area we need to provide for. " She said the company would have to test the Palisades Parkway property to determine whether putting up antennas there would address the service gap. Nextel first sought to erect antennas in November 2000, with hearings on its two applications stretching nearly a year. In its decision, the board wrote that Nextel's experts had failed to demonstrate a clear need for the antennas in the first place. Rather, the board wrote, the company merely seemed interested in a "tweaking" of its ability to transfer phone signals from one cell to the next. If the need is real, board members concluded, Nextel should be able to improve its signal strength by placing its antennas on the borough site.