This change would effectively sanction backroom negotiations and certainly result in an even-greater level of suspicion among citizens and developers who may receive less favorable terms than others in the ability for certain developers to use “inside” connections to their benefit. This paper has already written extensively about those who are initially positioned to benefit from the zoning changes and TIF district creation on Rantoul Street, the relationships of those working on their behalf and the appearance it creates. Citizens in public hearings held on this subject and in private communication have also expressed similar concerns.
There is no question that anticipation of this dynamic is the reason the mayor and the proponents of the proposal stressed the importance of avoiding the potential for favoritism. At no point prior to the passage of the agreement last Monday did the mayor communicate a change in this very clear position in any meaningful way. Nothing has changed to eliminate the concerns that prompted it in the first place.
There is also no question that setting equal incentive terms for projects within the district made the proposal more acceptable for me and other councilors with whom I have spoken and, ultimately, allowed for the unanimous passage of the terms.
(Due to a family obligation, I was unable to attend last Monday’s meeting, but I followed the meeting online with BevCam and notified my colleagues in advance and in writing of my intent to support the initiative. I would have voted in favor of the final order that was presented for passage.)
I am proud of the work done by the council to thoroughly examine this issue and its implications and create an incentive package intended to help redevelopment in that area, provide for new growth to increase our tax base, but also ensures that incentives will be applied in a manner in which citizens and all those seeking to develop in the area can be confident. It should stand as a great example of collaboration between the council, the administration and those in the private sector working to improve an area of Beverly badly in need of a makeover.
The mayor’s action has put that collaboration in serious jeopardy.
I will vote to overturn the mayor’s veto when it is brought before the council for consideration, and I strongly encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Ward 6 councilor