Massachusetts Association of Health Board Pleads for Pittsfield to Be Heard


UPDATE As the Berkshire Eagle reports from the front lines, the battle between a handful of citizens in Pittsfield, MA and Verizon Wireless rages on. Prior to the construction of a controversial cell tower, residents complained that it would be an eyesore. Once built, the residents have claimed that the cell tower has made them sick. The citizens group and the telecom provider have engaged in legal wrangling with Verizon currently holding the stronger hand when it managed to avoid following an emergency order issued by the Pittsfield Board of Health. The order attempted to get Verizon to temporarily shut down the cell tower.

In the latest development, the Massachusetts Association of Health Board (MAHB) has weighed in to assert that the Pittsfield Board of Health may have been pressured into not enforcing the emergency order. The MAHB is not commenting on whether or not the tower contributed to health issues. It is arguing that the Pittsfield Board of Health was prevented from following its own recommendations. The MAHB states that its mission is to “assist and support boards of health in meeting their statutory and service responsibilities.” 

The MAHB was prompted into action on Pittsfield’s behalf, and has filed an amicus brief in Berkshire Superior Court. The brief alleges that the Pittsfield Board of Health dropped its own emergency order because it was “coerced in an improper manner.”

According to MAHB Executive Director Cheryl Sbarra, “neither the defendant mayor, nor the City Council, have the authority to intervene in or interfere with the operation of the board of health.” The defendants in this latest action are Mayor Linda Tyer, City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta, the Board of Health, Verizon Wireless, and a local property owner. A zoom hearing between the parties is scheduled for April 6.

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