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Peabody resident fighting construction of Verizon cell tower may have proof it violates the company’s license

Jaclyn Corrivear, a Lynn Street resident, is fighting construction of a cell tower in her neighborhood. She has uncovered proof the 60-foot tower would violate a licensing agreement between Michael's Limousine and the city. (Owen O'Rourke)

PEABODY — A Lynn Street resident fighting construction of a Verizon Wireless cell tower at Michael’s Limousine said she has proof the 60-foot pole would violate the company’s license.

Jaclyn Corriveau, 28, of South Peabody, provided The Item with a copy of the five-page document signed by former Mayor Peter Torigian in 2000. It sets 15 conditions including one that says the license holder shall not sublease the premises to any other party for any other use.

“Leasing the space to Verizon for a cell tower is clearly a violation of the terms he agreed to with the city,” she said. “It’s fair to hold him accountable. He should be called before the City Council and asked to explain.”

The license is the latest volley that has pit the closely-knit neighborhood against owner Michael Kostopoulos and the telecommunications giant. Federal law allows utilities to install cell towers where there are gaps in coverage.

The five-year fight to keep Verizon Wireless from building the tower on Michael’s Limousine property on Lynn Street reached a pivotal point in March. That’s when a Land Court judge ordered the city to issue permits for the tower to Verizon within 30 days. The city has appealed.

Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr., who joined more than 100 residents at Jon and Jennifer Swanson’s home across from the limo company last week to fight the proposed cell tower, referred questions on the license to city attorney Michael Smerczynski.

But Smerczynski declined to say whether the restriction ends the fight over placement of the tower.

“My opinion of the license restriction is part of the litigation strategy and management of the Verizon case and (is) confidential,” he said in a statement.

In a follow-up interview, Smerczynski said he “works for his client, the mayor, and not the news media.”

The mayor did not return a call seeking comment.

Kostopoulos said he and his lawyer interpret the stipulation differently.

“Our understanding is the provision refers to leasing space inside the building, not the outside lot,” he said.

But City Council President Jon Turco disagrees.

“Allowing a cell tower on his property is a violation of the agreement dating back 19 years ago,” he said. “How he can claim he can sublease a portion of the property is beyond me.”

City Councilor-at-Large Anne Manning-Martin, who said she distributed 500 flyers about the meeting at the Swanson’s home, said there’s no doubt about the City Council’s intention.

“I have believed this to be a clear violation for some time and have questioned it repeatedly,” she said. “But the city attorney disagrees with my interpretation. We need another opinion.”

Still, Bettencourt and Turco say they are hopeful a solution is in sight.

Verizon and the Peabody Municipal Light Plant (PMLP), the city’s electric utility company, have been discussing the installation of a dozen canisters on light poles on the city’s south side. The pint-sized containers would provide the same services without a tower.”

“I feel confident they will reach an agreement,” Turco said. “It all comes down to money. Verizon wants to pay as little as possible because they may have to do this in many cities, while PMLP wants to make sure they get enough money and protect ratepayers.”
Corriveau has been among the most active residents in the fight.

She has distributed five dozen “No Cell Tower” signs to homeowners.

“This is a life changing event that could put homeowners upside down on their mortgage,” she said. “It must be stopped.”

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