BEVERLY — The CEO of Windover Construction on Wednesday called a Beverly city councilor's resolution accusing a local business of manipulating $2 million in tax credits "disturbing and defamatory."
Lee Dellicker declined to comment further, other than to say he is considering his options regarding the resolution written by City Councilor Scott Houseman.
Houseman last week filed a resolution with the City Council condemning a "local business" for what he called a "manipulation" of a state and federal program that gave the company more than $2 million in historic rehabilitation tax credits.
Houseman did not mention the business by name in the resolution. But the document quoted from a letter that Dellicker wrote in 2014 promising not to demolish historic buildings in order to get the tax credits, only to have its successor company, Beverly Crossing, now planning to knock down them down to build a six-story apartment building near Beverly Depot.
In his resolution, Houseman said the "local business" violated its "commitment, if not the law" and said the council "condemns such corporate behavior as inconsistent with our community values."
Asked to respond to the resolution, Dellicker said in a text message, "I am trying to evaluate my next step of what I think is a disturbing and defamatory action by one city councilor."
Houseman declined to comment on Dellicker's response. Beverly Crossing President Chris Koeplin also declined comment.
The controversy centers on $2.2 million in tax credits awarded to Windover Development in 2013 for restoring a former factory on Pleasant Street into veterans housing. Windover became eligible for the credits after the company nominated the area, which centers around the train depot, as a historic district.
The Massachusetts Historic Commission at first refused to issue the tax credits when it learned that Windover was planning to demolish other buildings in the district. Dellicker responded in a letter by agreeing that the buildings "must remain," and the company received the tax credits.
But now that a five-year period in which the government could take back the tax credits has expired, Windover's successor company, Beverly Crossing, is planning to demolish three historic buildings to build the six-story Depot Square II apartment building across from the train station.
Houseman said he wrote the resolution because elected officials have an obligation to see to the responsible use of taxpayer money. But fellow councilors have expressed reluctance to target a specific company, especially while the Depot Square II project is awaiting a decision by the city's Planning Board to proceed. Ward 5 Councilor Don Martin said he worried that the council could be accused of slander.
A City Council committee voted on Monday to "hold" the resolution and possibly revise it to address the issue of corporate citizenship in a broader context. Houseman said Wednesday he is waiting for other councilors to submit revisions.
"I'll wait and see if that actually happens," he said. "I'm happy to take suggestions. I wanted to raise the visibility of the issue. We'll see where it goes from here."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.