Board of Health Withdraws “Cease and Desist” Order on Cell Tower That’s Making Residents Sick after Verizon Gets Legal

By B.N. Frank

Residents of Pittsfield, Massachusetts have been reporting significant and life-threatening health issues ever since Verizon activated a 4G cell tower in their neighborhood.  In October 2021, The Board of Health asked Verizon to remove the tower but the company refused.  In February, the BOH voted unanimously to issue the company a “cease and desist” order.  Between February and April, several health experts provided supporting testimony to validate residents’ complaints (see 1, 2, 3, 4) and to ask the state to better protect residents from exposure to cell tower radiation.  City council members also asked state lawmakers to introduce legislation to better protect residents.  On April 6, the BOH voted to send its “cease and desist” order to the company (see 1, 2).  In May, Verizon took legal action against the city and last week, the BOH retracted its order.

From iBerkshires:

Pittsfield Health Board Rescinds Verizon Cease & Desist Order

By Brittany Polito

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Board of Health has voted to rescind its cease and desist order on the Verizon cell tower at 877 South St. after the telecommunications company filed a case against the city of Pittsfield in federal court.

Chair Bobbie Orsi said litigation is not the solution right now. Instead, the panel will pursue collaborative discussions to address the issue.

“When we issued the cease and desist order, we did that as a strategy to have a conversation with Verizon, I felt like that in our heart, in my heart, we really wanted them to come talk to us about this,” she said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“And we never wanted, I never wanted a long protracted legal argument. we wanted something that was going to be helpful for the residents in that neighborhood so I guess my feeling now is that litigation is perhaps not the process that’s going to get us to — that’s not going to help resolve the issues right now.”

The board was in agreement with Orsi’s thinking.

“I don’t think that litigation at this time is the most effective vehicle to provide a remedy for folks in that neighborhood,” board member Steve Smith said.

“As much as we want to help them — that’s never been the issue.”

It was also suggested that the board continue to do advocacy at the state and local level.

In early April, the board voted to act on the order nearly two months after first approving it. This vote was conditioned on the order being withdrawn without prejudice if the board was unable to retain legal counsel prior to an administrative or judicial proceeding.

The order stated that the cellular company had one week to respond or come to the table with a solution that pleased the panel, which would be to remove or turn off the tower. The board had planned on meeting on April 20 to follow up on the order but never met.

Last month, Verizon, operating as Pittsfield Cellular Telephone, asked for a declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court in Springfield against the city.  The company claimed that the board violated Section 332 of the federal Telecommunications Act (TCA) of 1996 that prohibits state and local governments from regulating a personal wireless service facility because of perceived health effects from radiofrequency emissions that comply with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.

The City Council was to take up a request from the board for $84,000 to hire legal counsel against the telecommunications company but this was sidelined when the council was informed of the lawsuit.

Since the tower’s erection in August 2020, Alma Street resident Courtney Gilardi and her daughter have spoken during open microphone about negative health effects they say are from electromagnetic fields (EMF) generated by the antennae on the 115-foot pole.

Gilardi saw the cease and desist order as a beacon of hope.

“The harm that we have suffered has not changed, your authority to act under the plenary are absolute powers of the Board of Health and Massachusetts state law and nuisance law and environmental law and Mass case law, that has not changed,” she said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“Your due diligence and authority as recognized by our Mayor Linda Tyer, that has not changed, what has changed is that we are here now and that our attorneys are here now and that we’re standing with you, that we hope to carry some of this load. The city needs to hire legal counsel so we can let the judge decide.”

Orsi and the Board of Health were served with a summons on May 17 to answer Verizon’s complaint within 21 days or judgment would be filed against it.

Gilardi, Charlie Herzig, Judy Herzig, Mark Markham, Angelika Markham, and Elaine Ireland on May 25 applied to the court as intervenors in having “significant interest in the outcome of the instant litigation.” Attorneys Paul Revere III of Centerville and W. Scott McCollough of Dripping Springs, Texas, are representing them.

According to the Children’s Health Defense, it has been advising the residents for months and the attorneys are working on its behalf. The fund is representing four of the families. The nonprofit advocates against vaccines, water flouridation and wireless technology and it’s chairman is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and outspoken critic of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Board of Health, meanwhile, will look at other strategies and will possibly discuss the issue at its July meeting.

“Thank you for your due diligence and your time and energy,” Orsi said to her colleagues.

“This is a very complicated legally, medically, public health-wise this is a very difficult topic and hopefully we can create a collaborative approach together to help address the residents’ issues.”

Board member Brad Gordon added that this is an entire community issue.

Decades of research has already proven that exposure to radiation from cell towers and other sources of wireless is biologically harmful.  In August 2021, a federal court ruled in favor of organizations and petitioners that sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for NOT adequately protecting Americans from wireless radiation exposure.  Despite the ruling, the FCC (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) as well as other government and state agencies and committees (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) continue to promote and fund the deployment and densification of both 5G and 4G cell towers and other wireless infrastructure.  Businesses and school districts continue to install 5G, 4G, and Wi-Fi for “private networks” as well.

Activist Post reports regularly about cell towers and unsafe technology.  For more information visit our archives and the following websites.

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