PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents of the Shacktown neighborhood have filed a lawsuit against the city after it overturned its cease-and-desist order for the Verizon cell tower at 877 South St..
On Thursday, a civil action was filed in Berkshire Superior Court against Mayor Linda Tyer, city solicitor Stephen Pagnotta, Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Co. (Verizon Wireless) and the Board of Health.
This is an appeal of the June board’s decision to rescind the order after the telecommunications company filed a lawsuit against the city of Pittsfield in federal court and is a request for declaratory relief. .
The document alleges that the decision to rescind the order exceeded or derogated from the authority or jurisdiction of the Commission; that it has been tainted and rendered illegal by the unlawful actions of the mayor, city attorney and/or others under the influence and control of the mayor; and is not supported by substantial evidence.
There are four counts: an appeal of the decision, the mayor’s refusal to enforce the council’s order, and the city’s attorney’s conflict of interest and improper coercion, and declaratory judgment .
Attorney Scott McCollough pointed out that the plaintiffs had to name the board of health in the lawsuit, but added that they weren’t really complaining about anything from the board, but rather “legal complaints about what they were forced to do”.
Courtney Gilardi, head of the lawsuit, said neither side wanted there to be litigation, but wanted to find a solution for their neighborhood. The purpose of the lawsuit is to get back to where the board was urging Verizon to come to the table.
“This health advice has been phenomenal, and especially under [Chair Bobbie Orsi’s] leadership,” she explained.
“They took this seriously, they treated us with dignity and respect, and they exercised due diligence in their investigation, findings and conclusions and the board truly deserves to have all the practical resources and legal support what he needs to find meaningful solutions for Shacktown.”
In early April, the council voted to proceed with the order nearly two months after first approving it. This vote was conditional on the withdrawal of the order without prejudice if the council was unable to retain a lawyer prior to an administrative or legal procedure.
The order stated that the cellphone company had one week to respond or come to the table with a solution the panel would like, which would be to remove or turn off the tower. The board had planned to meet on April 20 to follow through on the order, but never met.
In May, Verizon, doing business as Pittsfield Cellular Telephone, sought declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court in Springfield against the city. The company claimed the tip violated Section 332 of the Federal Telecommunications Act (TCA) of 1996 which prohibits state and local governments from regulating a personal wireless service facility due to perceived health effects. radio frequency emissions comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.
The city council was expected to agree to a request from the board for $84,000 to hire a lawyer against the telecommunications company, but that was shelved when the council was told of the lawsuit and put to rest in June.
Since the erection of the tower in August 2020, Gilardi, of Alma Street, and her daughter have spoken on an open mic at city council meetings about the negative health effects they say are due to the fields electromagnetic waves (EMF) generated by the antennas on the 115-foot pole. They also said they resided in another location due to the effects.
Five other shacktown residents joined Gilardi in the lawsuit: Charlie and Judy Herzig, Mark and Angelika Markham and Elaine Ireland.
The group representative
Citizens Civil Complaint Ag… by iBerkshires.com
symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, palpitations, fatigue, skin rashes, tinnitus, memory loss and concentration problems.
Key words: cell tower, lawsuit,