To the editor:
Imagine looking out your window and seeing equipment trucks roll past your home to cut down trees at the end of your street in a quiet, residential neighborhood. You question the workers, but don’t get a straight answer. You call your city counselor, but he knows nothing about it. Nor do your neighbors. Eventually, you learn that a multi-billion dollar corporation is using the land to construct something that could endanger the health of you and your family. This is the scenario playing out in a working-class, neighborhood near Arrowhead, affectionally known as “Shack Town.”
The controversial Verizon cell tower project located the end of Alma Street raises two fundamental questions. First, if the commercial address used on a project application is 15 times further away than the residential neighborhood in which the construction site lies, is it in fact a residential project and should it therefore be subject to the zoning restrictions of residential neighborhoods?
Verizon lists the address of its cell tower project as 877 South Street, which is zoned as a commercial site. Yet, the actual construction is taking place 1,500 feet away from that address, a mere 100 feetoff of Alma Street, in a residential neighborhood. If one were to ask, “Would a reasonable person conclude that the cell tower is being built in a residential neighborhood?” The answer would unequivocally be, “Yes”.
Second, what can be done when a corporate entity initiates a construction project without following city ordinances requiring them to notify residents in advance of said project?
Verizon violated city ordinances prior to beginning construction of the tower. Whenever a property owner in Pittsfield wishes to engage in certain types of construction, he/she must notify all neighbors who live within 300 feet of said property. In the case of the cell tower project, this should have happened at least three times, but did not. Over a dozen neighbors have signed affidavits swearing that they never received any notification during the permitting process. Without notification, the neighborhood was deprived of its due process rights to express concerns about the project during the permitting phase.
Fortunately, our neighborhood is fighting back. We are not asking for anything unreasonable. We simply want Verizon to pause construction so that we may exercise our right to speak before the Zoning Board to help inform its decision-making process, which is what should have happened from the outset.
Published in the Berkshire Eagle