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March 21, 2013

Heard Around Town: Titters over Twitter at the Peabody council

PEABODY — Last Thursday, City Council President Tom Gould offered a salute to an online service for “twittering” a ceremony at St. John the Baptist School.

That brought some throat clearing from up-to-date Councilor Anne Manning-Martin, who advised, “That would be tweeting.”

“I would be saying twittering, too,” conceded colleague Arthur Athas.

Another sign of the times

City councilors failed to ask the key question while approving the installation of electronic signs at Sunoco stations on Route 1 and 1 Lynn St.

“Utilizing an electronic board,” the application said, “protects the safety of employees by allowing them to change the prices via computer versus physically removing price cards.”

In other words, the ever-changing prices can be posted at the touch of a button.

Yet, councilors wanted to be sure the sign was no bigger than the old sign and that it would be “static” — meaning no dancing numbers, flashing numbers or even an occasional finger gesturing that you turn in here.

Heather Dudko of Sign Permit Consultants assured the council that it wouldn’t.

Councilor Jim Liacos noted warily, “Lately with these signs, we’ve been getting ourselves into trouble.”

Dudko was later asked the vital question by a reporter — how high do the numbers go?

“They go to $9.99,” she replied. “They better never go over $9.99 a gallon.”

Indeed.

More signs

It’s their own fault, says former mayoral candidate Russ Donovan regarding the massive sign recently erected on Lowell Street. Donovan recalls that the City Council in the spring 2009 designated that property as zoned for business in order to allow a CVS there.

The CVS, represented by lawyer Jack Keilty, was never built. But then, Donovan believes, the rezoning greased the way for Keilty’s new client, Total Outdoor Corp., to put the sign in.

Liacos is dismissive of Donovan’s interpretation, blaming the situation instead on Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead, who overruled the council’s rejection of Total Outdoor’s petition for a special permit. “That’s why it was put there.” He added scornfully, “The judge in his wisdom decided it didn’t look offensive.”

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