Last night, with a vote of 5 to 2, the Planning Board granted site plan approval, with a number of extensively discussed and considered conditions, to Verizon to install wireless communications equipment of the roof of 199 Columbia Street, Providence Hall.
Today, Gossips received a "letter to the editor" from Michael Colberg and Alexandra Semchenko. on behalf of the Faulty Towers Response Group, commenting on that decision. The text of that letter follows:
Dear Gossips of Rivertown,
Last October, a tenant at Providence Hall posted the following on the Planning Board site:
"I have lived at Providence Hall over 13 years. It is a decent place to live, having grown comfortable here. I will say without being overly sentimental that I hope to live out my life here. However, I was very disturbed to find out only recently about Verizon's proposal to build a 5G cellular tower on the roof of the building which I have called home for so long. I live on the top floor here—the 5th floor. To think that this monstrosity will be a scant 10 feet above my home causes me a great deal of anxiety and concern." (10/27/20)
This is one tenant. Thirty-four tenants in Providence Hall have documented their opposition to this proposal. All tenant opposition ceased when Arbor Management, the owners of the building, began "suggesting" that tenants refrain from speaking out. This is in addition to the 30 additional No Consent forms posted, the 8 additional letters sent [to] the Planning Board, and the 163 residents who signed an online petition.
Hudson, its mayor and his administration, its legal team, most members of the Planning Board have played active roles in this process. They abrogated their duty to care for Hudson residents who most need their protection. Arbor Management has failed in its obligation to keep safe its Section 8 residents and furthermore has failed in its obligation to request and receive permission from HUD to rent out its roof to Verizon. HUD is understaffed, and so the outcome of this arrogant omission remains unknown.
We live in a city where many residents spend a lot of time cloaking themselves in the verbiage (but not the actions) of progressive ideology. Some hide behind names like Social Democrats and Working Families Party; the new Planning Board chair even styles himself as an activist interested in social justice. What we are witnessing here is a dichotomy between what is said and what is done. Actions in fact do speak louder than words. That members of this Planning Board remain unconscious about the consequences of treating its most vulnerable residents in such a disdainful and a dismissive way does not mitigate the damage done.
Some of us took a significant amount of time to educate ourselves about electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation technology and the law. It was a steep learning curve. We did it because it was in front of us and we felt that if we were going to participate, we needed to do it with actual knowledge and not rely upon other people's opinions. Time will tell if we understand things accurately.
Regardless of opinion, there are things that are simply the truth. They often take time to make themselves known. Until then, the honest conclusion is: we do not know enough about EMF radiation to expose residents so vulnerable that they seek out a building with a heightened responsibility of care. This fact has been overlooked, because it takes it lot of courage to sit with "I do not know." We have witnessed little courage during this process.
We must acknowledge the efforts made by Laura Margolis and Theresa Joyner, two Planning Board members who took the time to educate themselves, who asked probing questions, and who were aware and principled enough to vote no to this application. The Planning Board's decision is something that each member will bear in his or her life. The members will also, whether consciously or not, carry within themselves all the pain they have caused by their actions.
The quote below is one that can offer ongoing guidance as we move forward:
"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." —John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address at St. Andrew's (1867)
Michael Colberg and Alexandra Semchenko on behalf of the Faulty Towers Response Group