PEABODY — It may have seemed like a reach when the building inspector shut down site preparation at the Boulderwood subdivision in South Peabody.
After all, some city officials had previously acknowledged that developer David Solimine Jr. had all his permits. And Solimine immediately offered a counter to every complaint raised. When the order was lifted a few days later, some may have wondered if an inexperienced city leader had miscalculated or merely acted for show.
But by the time the dust settled, Mayor Ted Bettencourt had managed to get meaningful concessions from Solimine. It wasn’t enough to stop the controversial project, but it gave the city an extra measure of protection.
“I wanted the developer to know,” Bettencourt said yesterday, “we’re going to be watching him very closely. ... If he starts taking shortcuts, we’re going to get involved again.”
Thanks to the cease-and-desist order, which sparked negotiations with Solimine, the developer placed $1 million in escrow at Community Credit Union in Lynn and put it under the control of the city in order to ensure the construction of a water tank.
“The city is in a stronger position because they control these funds,” Solimine said.
As for the contested permits, they agreed that Solimine didn’t need to get them yet, but that he would do so anyway.
Solimine was “not happy about the cease-and-desist order,” the mayor said, but added that he believed Solimine had failed to get all the permits he needed.
“I understand his rights, but I need to make sure the city’s rights are addressed,” Bettencourt said.
“Kudos to the mayor,” City Councilor Dave Gamache said. “He got something out of nothing.”
In addition to the money, Gamache said, Solimine has agreed to give assurances “in writing” to back up the project.