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October 16, 2013

Beverly council questions Black Cow lease

BEVERLY — Seven years after a restaurant was first proposed for the waterfront, some city councilors are now wondering if the plan is moving too fast.

Councilors raised concerns last night about Mayor Bill Scanlon’s request for them to approve a 40-year lease between the city and restaurant owner Joseph Leone.

The lease would allow Leone to build a Black Cow restaurant on city-owned land near the Beverly-Salem bridge. But some councilors are wondering if they should approve the lease now because the permitting for the process is still in litigation.

“I’m really concerned about approving a lease before we know the final outcome,” Councilor Don Martin said. “It seems to me we can wait three or four months and then move forward. Maybe the next mayor will have to deal with it.”

Councilor Maureen Troubetaris disagreed, saying the current administration is better prepared to handle the lease negotiations because the proposal has been in the works for so long. Scanlon is not running for re-election and will leave office in January.

“The present administration has been working on this for years and years,” Troubetaris said. “It has a long, long history and to shut it off for a couple of months I think is insulting.”

If the City Council approves the lease and the litigation is settled, Troubetaris said, “We can start tomorrow tearing down the old McDonald’s building and get going with what the entire city says, ‘What’s taking you so long?’”

The proposed lease calls for Leone, who owns Black Cow restaurants in Hamilton and Newburyport, to pay the city $30,000 per year to lease the land where he would build the restaurant. It would be the city’s first waterfront restaurant since the McDonald’s on the same site closed 20 years ago.

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