image description

Pittsfield Cell Tower Opponents Turn to Supreme Judicial Court

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Shacktown residents want the Supreme Judicial Court to weigh in on the city's notification process for the cell tower at 877 South St., alleging that they found out about it when construction vehicles showed up on their narrow residential roads.

In April 2020, the abuttors filed a complaint in Berkshire Superior Court trying to annul the Zoning Board of Appeals' approval of the tower and seeking a new ZBA hearing. They claimed that notification was not received through the mail.

The defendants, Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Co., doing business as Verizon Wireless, and the ZBA, filed a joint motion for summary judgment. the judgment ruled against the abuttors saying that "the dispute over whether the city mailed notice to the Plaintiffs is not material." 

The defendants argued that the suit was not filed in a timely matter, as the tower's application was submitted in September 2017.

If the SJC takes on the case as substance, it will decide if their legal argument is correct, said attorney John Siskopoulos, who represents the abuttors.

"I believe we're definitely the correct argument because I believe the law was violated here with regards to what happened to the abuttors," he added.

Both the trial and Appellate Court determined that there was an issue of fact in whether the abuttors actually received mailed notice of the hearing. Siskopoulos believes that the ruling against them is a "stunning legal conclusion."

He said there was low attendance at the cell tower hearing held in November 2017 and believes that the notices were not properly mailed to give the area's residents the opportunity to attend. Siskopoulos is arguing that the permitting procedure must stick to the statute and have a post in a printed newspaper, on a community board, and mailed to abuttors within 300 feet of the proposed site.

The ZBA was found to have followed the first two but residents are arguing that the third — the mailings —- were not. 

Part of the issue is the location of the tower, which is set far back from the South Street address and into the Shacktown neighborhood. 

According to the meeting minutes from Nov. 15, 2017, Lori Court resident Lewis Schiller attended the hearing and posed questions about the tower. Lori Court is just east of the tower. Most of his concerns regarding visibility, electrical interference, and construction impacts were addressed.
At the hearing, he asked that a beacon is placed on the tower due to its proximity to the Pittsfield Municipal Airport and the amount of helicopter traffic that is seen in the area and that the access gate is constructed so that it cannot be bypassed by all-terrain vehicles.
After having his questions answered, Schiller was in support of the improved cell service from the infrastructure and said the neighborhood's concerns are not supported by bona fide research.

Last year, he told iBerkshires that Lori Court residents received an initial notice and a final approval notice for the tower.

Courtney Gilardi, a resident of Alma Street, just south of the tower, who has led the opposition to the cell tower, said the abuttors want to ensure that all three forms of communication are required before a ZBA hearing. She and her family have reported sickness from the tower and are living in alternative housing.

"We are so blessed to have found attorney John Siskopoulos, to have somebody who really cares about the neighborhood and the people here and the case," Gilardi said.

"He took the time to read the amicus brief that was signed by many of our city councilors and Tricia Farley-Bouvier, our state representative, where so many people tell their story."

Late last month, Shacktown residents filed litigation against the city after its cease-and-desist order for the cell tower was rescinded. A civil action suit was filed in Berkshire Superior Court against Mayor Linda Tyer, City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta, Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Co. (Verizon Wireless) and the Board of Health.

It is an appeal of the board's June decision to rescind the order after the telecommunications company filed a case against the city of Pittsfield in federal court and is a request for declaratory relief.


Below: image of the abuttor notification that Lori Court resident Lewis Schiller says was sent to him, with his notes. 

Tags: cell tower,   

If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at

Year After Miguel Estrella's Death, Balloons Soar Over Pittsfield in His Honor

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

The Estrellas have been advocating for reforms on how authorities deal with people suffering mental issues and how police respond to such incidents. Right, balloons rise over the park. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Balloons soared over the downtown on Sunday in remembrance of Miguel Estrella, who was fatally shot by police on March 25, 2022.

His family has spent the last year advocating for better mental health support and police accountability.  On Sunday, they marked the year anniversary of his death with a vigil in Persip Park under clear, bright skies.

"Miguel made it nice and sunny for us today," his sister Elina Estrella said.

She said her brother was nice to everyone and was learning to cope with his mental health issues and she urged people to have compassion for others.

"My main thing is just be kind to people. You never know what they're going through," Estrella said.

View Full Story

More Pittsfield Stories