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Pittsfield Health Board to Make Action Plan for Cell Tower
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
08:48AM / Sunday, December 05, 2021
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Some Board of Health members are eager to create an action plan for the 877 South St. cell tower.

Since the 115-foot, Verizon tower was erected in August 2020, neighbor Courtney Gilardi has reported negative health effects and says she is living in alternate temporary housing because of it. She and her daughter, Amelia Gilardi, have regularly spoken during the open microphone segment of city meetings since.

"It's been a long time since all of this has started and there's a lot of information out there to get our hands and heads around," Chair Bobbie Orsi said.

"I don't have a really clear idea about what our next step is, although it still seems to me that while the health issues are still there, and the science is good around cell towers causing problems,  it just seems like the best thing to do is make them shut it off but before we take that step we need to get our ducks in a row."

Orsi was to meet with Mayor Linda Tyer on Friday to see where the city stands on the situation and discuss the next possible steps. She recognizes that there is still a lot of research to be done but believes it is the board's duty to address public health concerns such as this.

The chair sees two possible options: an emergency stop order or an executive order to cease and desist or a negotiated settlement between the cellular company, the city, and affected parties.

"We can't just keep saying we'll do it next month, I think we have to just do something, shake the tree and see what falls," she said.

Fellow board members were in agreement.

Interim Director of Public Health Andy Cambi said they would have to consult with the state to see what kind of public nuisance or violation the tower could be considered for a stop order.

Orsi will also look into the authority of the board in the situation, understanding that it would have a great impact if turned off or removed.

Last week, the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure gave a favorable report of state Sen. Julian Cyr of Hyannis' Bill 186 to form a special commission to research the impact of electromagnetic and radiofrequency radiation on consumer protection, public health, and technology in the commonwealth.

In October, state Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier spoke in favor of this and Cyr's Bill 187, which would require RFR warnings on the use of cell phones, particularly in regard to children, during a state legislative hearing.

She spoke of Gilardi's struggle with the tower.

The City Council has also taken up the issue. That same month, the councilors voted to send a letter to Attorney General Maura Healey requesting an investigation on the permitting process for the tower.

After Orsi's conversation with Tyer, the board plans to either hold an additional meeting or discuss the next steps at the January meeting.

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