Legal Action by WTF Opponents Names Pittsfield Mayor, Linda Tyer

By Meg Britton-Mehlisch, July 29, 2020 | The Berkshire Eagle article here.

Note: WTF = ‘Wireless Telecommunications Facility’, aka ‘Cell Tower’

An aerial view of the 115-foot monopole Wireless Telecommunications Facility (WTF) that Verizon Wireless erected in a south Pittsfield neighborhood in 2020.

PITTSFIELD — A group of residents filed legal action Thursday asking the Berkshire Superior Court to review whether the Board of Health improperly ended its opposition to a cell tower in south Pittsfield.

The residents claim the board dropped a cease-and-desist order against Verizon Wireless due to what they allege was an illegal and unethical handling of the situation by Mayor Linda Tyer and City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta.

Scott McCollough, one of the attorneys representing residents, said in an interview.

“We are really just trying to get the outside interference of the Mayor and the City Solicitor, who has conflicts of interest … out of the way and let the board exercise its independent authority to do what it thinks is the best. The goal here is to let the board make that decision with the resources that it needs, including independent counsel, a lawyer that can give them fair and objective advice and does not have a conflict.”

The residents are making use of a Massachusetts state law that allows the court to review the administrative decisions of other bodies, like the Board of Health, and “correct errors in proceedings which are not according to the course of the common law.” The law gives the residents 60 days to challenge the Board of Health’s actions — a window that was quickly closing.

To make the challenge, residents had to name as a defendant the Board of Health, a body they view as their advocate through this process.

The filing says:

[the the board is named ] “because it is their coerced action rescinding the Emergency Order that has harmed the Plaintiffs by continuing the nuisance, adverse health consequences and the ongoing constructive eviction of some of the Plaintiffs . . . Plaintiffs emphasize, however, that in many respects the Board is as much a victim as the Plaintiffs.”

Plaintiffs in the action are Courtney Gilardi, Charlie Herzig, Judy Herzig, Mark Markham, Angelika Markham and Elaine Ireland.