BEVERLY — The summer break did nothing to diminish the controversy over a proposal to give tax breaks to developers on Rantoul Street.
Picking up where it left off in July, the City Council last night continued its public hearing and heard more than two hours of often-heated opinions on the subject.
Beverly Main Streets, developers and Mayor Bill Scanlon all expressed their support for the proposal, which would encourage residential development on Rantoul Street by giving developers up to a 50 percent tax break on the improvements they make.
But most members of the general public who spoke at City Hall came down strongly against it. City Council President Paul Guanci twice had to pound the gavel and ask for a vote from his fellow councilors to put an end to talks by residents who went on too long.
“We live in a beautiful waterfront community, and somehow there’s this conception that we have to come with our hat in our hand to help developers,” Congress Street resident Sean Hanlon said. “The people most behind this (proposal) are the people with the most to gain. They’re not doing some altruistic project for us out of the goodness of their heart.”
Beverly Main Streets has promoted the plan as a way to revive a tired stretch of Rantoul Street around the train station. Developers would be given a tax break to build residential buildings, which in turn would create a customer base that would lead to more retail businesses and a thriving downtown, proponents said.
The Main Streets proposal originally had Windover Construction as the first developer that would benefit from a tax break, on the company’s apartment building project at the site of the former Enterprise car rental business.
But Windover President Lee Dellicker said last week that his company has withdrawn from the plan due to the controversy it has generated and will build the apartment buildings without a tax break.