HUDSON–What if you held a public hearing and lots of people came? Public hearings in Columbia County can draw few–or no–attendees and take very little time. But this summer Hudson Planning Board plans to hold a public hearing on cell phone towers proposed for the Bliss public housing high rise. Now the Planning Board is concerned that Bliss tenants worried about radiation from the cell towers will “descend en masse” on the hearing, according to Hudson resident Carol Osterink.
Ms. Osterink, who publishes the The Gossips of Rivertown blog, https://gossipsofrivertown.blogspot.com/, offered that information at the June 12 meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA), which controls the income-restricted Bliss complex in Hudson.
Alan Weaver, chairman of the HHA Board of Commissioners, confirmed that the HHA would receive money for hosting the cell towers.
Ms. Osterink said the Planning Board had met the previous day and raised two concerns about the proposed Bliss cell phone towers: one was that a lot of people would attend the public hearing; the other was whether the Bliss high rise was structurally sound enough and strong enough to hold the towers.
With regard to the second concern, Mr. Weaver responded, “It has been inspected.”
When Ms. Osterink said the Planning Board thought that many Bliss residents would be worried about the radiation from the cell towers, Mr. Weaver responded that there are cell towers on the hospital.
“As I understand it, all Housing and Urban Development high rises in the country either have cell phone towers or are under contract to get them,” added Tim Mattice, executive director of the HHA. The HHA is under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Ms. Osterink suggested that the Planning Board might recommend that someone from Verizon speak to the Bliss tenants before the public hearing, hoping that a session with a Verizon representative would end tenants’ interest in attending the hearing.
Although Bliss tenants have filled some recent HHA meetings, few came to the June 12 meeting and none said anything about the cell towers.
Also at the HHA meeting:
• The Board of Commissioners approved a budget for the fiscal year of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020
• The board approved the report of collection losses from tenants who have left while owing back rent. Mr. Mattice said there is a chance the HHA might get a little of the money in the future, for the debtors will not be allowed to get any public housing anywhere in the country unless they pay their back rent
• Hudson resident Mary Ann Gazzola, noted that in recent meetings, “every time you speak about new construction plans, you go into executive session.” The HHA previously planned to construct two four-story residential buildings–one with space for stores–on land it owns near the Bliss complex, but recently those plans have been under re-evaluation. Ms. Gazzola questioned whether it was permissible under the state Open Meetings Law to discuss the construction plan in executive session. “You guys are in violation of” that law, she said
• The Board then went into executive session “to discuss Bliss Towers and State Street development projects and proposed bond.”
The next meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners will be Wednesday, July 10, at 6 p.m. in the Bliss Tower community room.