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June 7, 2013

Peabody board OKs water tower

The City Council huffed and puffed last night, but failed to blow down the proposed water tower that is essential to the construction of the controversial 112-home Boulderwood subdivision in South Peabody.

Mainly, it was a problem of overcoming agreements made with developer David Solimine that go back to 1999. These include a provision whereby Solimine is financing the $2 million structure, handing it over to the city, but retaining the right to get some of his investment back by selling space for communication devices on the tower.

Councilors raised numerous questions, including the possibility that the equipment, as voiced by Councilor Rico Mello, would “look like something out of ‘District 9’” (a science fiction movie about alien visitors). Councilors Arthur Athas and Anne Manning-Martin worried that it would interfere with the neighbors’ cellphones and other wireless equipment.

City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski read the fine print of an agreement between Solimine and the city that was signed in court in 2007 and which allows him to rent out the space to the communications companies.

“He’s the holder of the easement,” Smerczynski stressed. But he hinted broadly that the council could attach conditions on any special permit. “If you want to clarify ... what can be done. You have the power to do that.”

For his part, Solimine helped keep the long-delayed project going by quickly acquiescing to conditions proposed by the council, not only concerning the tower but his effort to truck in and out topsoil and fill from the site.

The height of the tower was estimated at roughly 112 feet with a concrete pedestal. It’s to hold 314,000 gallons of water and will not only serve to provide water pressure for the new development but for an even larger section of South Peabody, 250 homes in all. The material is glass fused with steel up to a half-inch thick.

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