Twelve residents whose properties abut a 115-foot tower erected by Verizon Wireless in a Pittsfield (MA) neighborhood pushed for a municipal review in the Berkshire Superior Court. Though the neighbors claimed they were not given advance notice of the project back in 2017, a judge ruled that the neighbors failed to appeal to the Zoning Board within 90 days of the tower’s construction.
The Berkshire Eagle reported that Judge Douglas H. Wilkins dismissed the complaint without a trial. “In short, the dispute over whether the City mailed notice to the Plaintiffs is not material,” Wilkins wrote.
“While the result may seem harsh to abutters, the opposite rule may be harsh to applicants, who may invest time, effort, and money in acting under a permit in the honest belief that no one intended to contest or appeal from the permit,” Wilkins added.
The ZBA upholds that abutters were properly notified of the project and provided an affidavit from a city official saying that notices were mailed to at least nine project abutters. However, in sworn statements, they say the notices were not received.
Residents are not only concerned over the lack of notice given but also that the tower will negatively impact property values. Based on the judge’s decision, the residents are evaluating an appeal, which is partially contingent on fundraising, reported the Eagle.
According to resident organizer Courtney Gilardi, the principle of receiving advance notice is worth the fight. “It’s a precedent that really impacts all of Pittsfield,” she said. “We want to win this for all of Pittsfield to give little guys a voice.”