Combined alerts at Lenox: proposed cell antenna in residential middle mission raises issues and brings assurances of security | information
LENOX – A proposal to place a low-power cell antenna on top of the government-subsidized Curtis apartment complex has encountered high-voltage attacks from tenants and other residents concerned about claims of health effects from wireless installations.
At the Lenox Housing Authority’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday, Vice-Chair Kim Graham said there were no pending decisions on a rental application from potential Pittsfield-based Evolution Site Services. The company is a regional wireless communications equipment developer, led by Christopher Ciolfi, who attended the meeting.
“I am confidently moving forward with this feeling, but sometimes the responsibilities of this body will not always be in line with the residents.”
– Kim Graham, Vice Chairman of the Lenox Housing Authority Board, on placing a cellular antenna on the Curtis
Ciolfi said he was approached by Verizon Wireless and received the project from the housing authority, which is under the state’s housing and economic development executive office, and the city. Negotiations on a lease have not yet been concluded this week, and the necessary city permits are pending.
“The Curtis roof is the highest point in downtown, and the city’s bylaws recommend using an existing structure rather than building a new free-standing tower,” Ciolfi said. “We are trying to work within the framework of the city rules to reduce the visibility of the antennas, provide service and improve coverage for the city center.”
In the meantime, the Urban Planning Committee continues to review revisions to the Telecommunications Equipment Constitution.
Graham told nearly 50 residents who attended Tuesday’s meeting that the decision on device placement would be made by the city. After future information forums and formal public hearings, the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals will decide on special approval for Ciolfi’s proposed lease.
The city of Lenox is again considering placing telecommunications equipment on the Curtis, a residential center for elderly and disabled residents. Although officials cite gaps in cell service, residents are concerned about the potential health effects.
For the third time in 15 years, a radio installation is being discussed for the historic building, which was built as a hotel in 1829 and has been operated by the Curtis family since 1853. In 1976 it was merged under new owners and bought by the city in 1979 for subsidized housing.
The two previous wireless connectivity proposals from 2002 and 2017 have been put on hold. The current application has been discussed since spring 2020 after a city forum in 2019 on mobile phone gaps.
Trilby Miller, a registered nurse who lives at the Curtis, expressed concern about the health effects of wireless technology on babies and children.
“It seems that their developing brains are more susceptible to EMFs” [electromagnetic fields] as adult brains, ”she said.
She acknowledged an “ongoing debate” about the health effects of digital devices.
“But I don’t think cell towers and antennas emit more concentrated EMF frequencies than digital devices and routers,” Miller said. “I think there is strong resistance to a cell phone antenna or, ultimately, multiple antennas on the roof of the Curtis.”
She cited petitions circulating among more than 80 residents who oppose the installation.
“Petitions are also circulating around town for owners and concerned citizens who don’t want a cellular antenna in the historic Curtis Hotel in the heart of our city,” she said.
Miller asked the Lenox Housing Authority board members if they “have any concerns or responsibilities about considering the health and well-being of your tenants”.
“I think there is strong resistance to a cell phone antenna or, ultimately, multiple antennas on the roof of the Curtis.”
– Trilby Miller, a registered nurse working at the Curtis. lives
Graham, the vice chairman of the board, acknowledged her concerns as an individual.
“I’ve done a lot of research, so my responsibility to all of you is great,” she said. “I am confidently moving forward with this feeling, but sometimes the responsibilities of this body will not always be in line with the residents.”
Several residents resisted the trust, including Carol Ramsey, tenants’ representative on the housing authority’s board of directors, who cited her own health sensitivity to computers.
Another tenant, speaking about medical implications, told the board that “some people are very sensitive and others are not. Your research has shown that it is safe, but my research has shown me that it is not safe. “
Graham said she believed the project was not harmful.
“I feel like I am moving around safely and speaking for myself,” she said. “We can agree to disagree.”
The Lenox Planning Committee is working on a constitutional proposal to regulate wireless communications equipment.
The antenna was also supported by CEO Diana Kirby, who referred to her belief that the technology “has come a long way in 20 years” and member Deborah Prew, who said she was “very comfortable” with the antenna.
The managing director of the housing authority, Barbara Heaphy, also supports the project. The Curtis is the suggested location, she said, because it is the highest point in the area.
“Cellular communications are a health and safety problem here, including for ambulances and the police,” she said. “I thought that was pretty important. I haven’t seen much to show that this is a real threat to human health. “
Any frequency radiation from a cellular antenna points upwards, she noted. “It wouldn’t come down.”
Anthony Lepore, advisor to the city and housing authority, said the city will decide. Lepore is Vice President and Director of Regulatory Affairs at CityScape Consultants, a company he founded in 1995 to represent local governments on wireless technology issues. The company is not affiliated with any tower owner or service provider.
He cited technical studies that showed that a vehicle’s electronic key fob “generates more high-frequency radiation for people in close proximity than antennas on the roof”.
Lepore said he believes the Curtis residents, including elderly and disabled renters, are not at risk. “According to the laws of physics, radio frequencies do not go down.”
James Wilusz, Executive Director of the Tri-Town Health Department, told Curtis tenants that his group held an information forum called Safe Cell Tower Locations in October 2020. He urged residents to contact local, state and federal officials.
“My biggest concern is advocacy for the city and public health in general,” he said. “Your voice is very powerful and you have to use it.