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Pittsfield City Council to ask state attorney general to review South Street Verizon cell tower

Ruling goes against Pittsfield cell tower neighbors, but fight might continue (copy) (copy)

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

PITTSFIELD — City Council President Peter Marchetti said he plans to draft a letter this weekend to the state Attorney General's Office requesting that the office investigate the permit process surrounding the construction of a Verizon cell tower on South Street. 

In 2017, Verizon Wireless received permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals to build a cell tower at 877 South St. The company built the tower during summer 2020, in the southern portion of the 46-acre lot associated with the address — near several residents' homes.

"I know I have a lot of questions about how Verizon ended up putting a cell tower right smack behind people's yards," Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio said as he introduced the petition to send a letter.

The council voted 9-1 during its meeting Tuesday to send the letter, with Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo voting against the move. At large councilor Yuki Cohen was absent.

Caccamo raised questions about the effectiveness of sending a letter for an investigation when the 2020 lawsuit by neighbors against the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Verizon Wireless is active and waiting to be heard by the Appeals Court.

Neighbors argue in that suit that the city failed to send proper notice to abutters, as required by state law, that it was considering a special permit for the tower.

City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta told the council Tuesday that he expects a decision on the appeal will be released "sometime next spring." He cautioned the council that any investigation by the Attorney General's Office likely wouldn't happen until after a final ruling on the suit.

Several councilors said they believe that "deceptive practices" were at play when Verizon was allowed to place the cell tower at the edge of the property, nearest to residential properties. Other councilors said they believed that the permit process on the project was flawed from the start. 

"I think deceptive practices were being used; that's my opinion," Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell said. "I hope we send this out and the attorney general does look into it finally."

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413- 496-6149.

Pittsfield Reporter

Meg Britton-Mehlisch is the Pittsfield reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, she previously worked at the Prior Lake American and its sister publications under the Southwest News Media umbrella in Savage, Minnesota.

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