PITTSFIELD, Mass. - A Berkshire County Superior Court judge has essentially granted the Pittsfield Board of Health the ability work with Verizon to come up with a solution over concerns about health issues neighbors say a cell tower in Pittsfield is causing.
What You Need To Know
- A Berkshire Superior Court Justice has given the Pittsfield Board of Health the ability to take up the matter of the Verizon cell tower at the state level
- The action had to do with the board of health rescinding a cease and desist order regarding the tower's operation
- Several residents say they've been experiencing headaches, nausea and tinnitus since the tower was turned on in 2020
- The ruling comes the same week as June 16, World Day of Intolerance to Electromagnetic Pollution
Courtney Gilardi said she and other plaintiffs had been told they had no case.
“I think what the issue has been is that we've been hearing because Verizon has a permit for the tower, there's nothing we can do based on zoning laws," Gilardi said. "The judge has ruled, and I think we can go forward with knowing that the board has the power at the state level to take this up in that health and safety is for every single person in the city of Pittsfield, it's not just for some. We're not collateral damage.”
“The biggest takeaway is that unlike what many in the city have been saying, 'there's nothing that can be done, there's no there-there', what this ruling signifies in gross is that there is a there-there,” said attorney Scott McCollough.
McCollough said the resident plaintiffs survived a motion to dismiss. Counts against the city defendants including Mayor Linda Tyer were dropped. Justice Francis Flannery ruled the Superior Court did not have the jurisdiction over ethics complaints against municipal employees or attorneys.
"In legal terms, what the judge said is you can go forward with your case," McCollough said. "It is simply that, as part of your claims that the order was wrongly rescinded, you cannot assert that the mayor or the city attorney violated specific ethics rules.”
The new ruling doesn’t mean the tower is coming down.
Since it was put up three years ago, residents on Alma Street said they’ve been experiencing headaches, dizziness and tinnitus, among other symptoms of electromagnetic sensitivity. Verizon has said all of its equipment operates under FCC limits and complies with all FCC health and safety standards.
For Gilardi, her family and their neighbors, the ultimate goal is to live in their homes without symptoms.
“My oldest, who is now 15, that's all she talks about, is getting back home into her room, that's all she talks about," Gilardi said. "You know, she has no place in this little cottage to call her own. And we're even blessed for that because we have neighbors sleeping in cars and who are couch surfing or doubling up with other people.”
“There is more and more awareness that radio frequency and electromagnetic frequencies radiation can make people sick," McCollough said, "And everybody in their life should pay attention to that because you don't know who it is going to strike.”