Dispute Settled, Blasting Set for This Week in South Peabody
Blasting on the site of the 110-home development off Bartholomew Street is slated to begin July 18 and will continue Monday through Friday.
City officials and Lynn developer David Solimine have resolved their differences and Solimine has a green light once again to begin work in earnest on his 110-home development in South Peabody. Activity re-commenced at the site on Monday.
Blasting at the site, which is located off Bartholomew Street, is slated to begin July 18. Solimine's blasting contractor received a permit on Friday from the Fire Department, following the resolution of alleged violations that resulted in a cease and desist order from the city last week.
City officials initially stopped work at the site because they said Solimine did not secure a number of permits and provide needed documentation before breaking ground on the project, such as permits for site work, earth removal and installing foundations and submitting documents to the Planning Board per a court agreement from 2007.
Solimine argued no violations had occurred, saying he had all the necessary permits and approvals in place. His legal team met with city attorneys on Thursday to try and resolve the issues. Both sides then agreed to a settlement by Friday and lifted the cease and desist order.
Solimine released details of the settlement to reporters over the weekend.
"I would like to commend Mayor Bettencourt and Peabody City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski for quickly calling a meeting of Peabody officials to resolve the issues raised by the Peabody building commissioner," Solimine said. "I have always maintained that we have all the required permits and approvals in place for the work that we are currently doing and I am pleased that we have reached this agreement and will be moving forward with our project."
Bettencourt said on Monday that the city was satisfied that the settlement resolved those issues and the project was in full accordance with the 2007 court agreement.
"It was important to let the developer know we're keeping a close eye on [Boulderwood]...the best I can do is to make sure those conditions are followed through," said Bettencourt, again noting that the massive development essentially fell in his lap this spring when Solimine said he would re-start the project.
The settlement states that the permit violations were purged from the record, given that Solimine would apply for a site work permit and seek a foundation permit when he reached that point of construction. He still disputed the necessity of the former permit, however, and both sides eventually agreed that no earth removal had been performed at the site yet.
Solimine would seek the necessary permit from the City Council when it came time for that phase.
The agreement also addresses the long-awaited water tower and corresponding upgrades to the distribution system in that area. Solimine said he placed $1 million in an escrow account at Community Credit Union on Friday to cover part of that expense.
If he fails to follow through with a mutually acceptable plan within 30 days, he forfeits the money, and likewise if he fails to build the water tower, upgrade a booster station and install several thousand feet of new water mains before the first lot is built, he forfeits the money.
Under the initial project approval more than a decade ago from the Planning Board, Boulderwood had to include a new tower and related upgrades to help improve water service to the area. At one time there was a deal with neighboring developers to jointly pay for the tower, but that deal dissolved over the years and now Solimine is solely responsible as far as the city is concerned.
Solimine is also paying $2,000 to Richard Carnevale to serve as a consultant on the tower and water upgrades. Carnevale is the former public services director in Peabody and husband of new city Treasurer Jean Carnevale.
He resigned from his post in 2008 for personal reasons and to further his career with the U.S. Army Reserve, according to former Mayor Michael Bonfanti in 2008. Carnevale was a colonel in the Reserve and is now the Director of Public Works in North Reading.
Solimine said Carnevale's services were at Bettencourt's request.
Bettencourt said on Monday that he asked for Carnevale to consult on the project because he was involved in the initial permitting for Boulderwood, specifically the water upgrades, and all his other department heads involved now are essentially new to the project.
"It really wouldn't have mattered who it was," Bettencourt said. "It just happened to be [Carnevale]."
He acknowledged the public might view it as a favor to a friend and former city official, but Bettencourt stressed that Carnevale is really the only one with "institutional knowledge" of the plan and his involvement will just be limited to the water upgrades.
Solimine said he also met with the Planning Board again Thursday to share a progress update and ensure he was meeting all the board's requirements. He said the board found everything was in compliance.
As for blasting, Solimine said, the contractor must hand-deliver notices to homes that directly abut the project both in Peabody and Lynn and place legal notices in local news outlets. There will be a paid detail officer on-site from the Fire Department when blasting occurs and additionally for independent monitoring of blasting activity. Any blasting within 250 feet of homes does require a pre-blast survey of those homes at Solimine's expense.
Explosive Technology, which will be performing the blasting, says daily blasts will occur between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will be three long horns 5 minutes before a blast, two short horns at 1 minute and one horn to signal "all clear" after a blast.
"My son Michael and I look forward to working cooperatively with Peabody officials as we move forward with the construction of this project that will bring a much needed boost to the local economy," said Solimine.