PEABODY — There’s a city council race in Ward 2.
Challenger Jaclyn Corriveau is taking on incumbent Peter McGinn.
The 28-year-old Lynn Street homeowner has been one of the leaders fighting Verizon Wireless’ decision to build a cell tower minutes from her house. She said McGinn has failed to provide leadership on several key issues facing the city.
“We have a number of serious problems in South Peabody that impact quality of life and he has not been present,” she said. “That’s disconcerting.”
Last spring, a Land Court judge ruled in Verizon’s favor to build a 60-foot tower at Michael’s Limousine, noting the City Council violated federal law by prohibiting the updating of wireless services. The court ordered the city to provide a building permit for the project. The city has appealed.
Corriveau has helped distribute more than four dozen “No Cell Tower” signs to homeowners in the neighborhood.
While the tower is proposed for Ward 1, it’s less than a mile from Ward 2 and will certainly lower property values, she said.
Corriveau said McGinn failed to show up at a neighborhood meeting in May to fight the tower at Jon and Jennifer Swanson’s home, which was attended by more than 100 neighbors, including Mayor Edward Bettencourt Jr. who briefly left a School Committee meeting to attend, and City Council President Jon Turco.
“I’ve been told he has not returned calls by constituents on that issue,” she said.
In response, McGinn said he was not at the Verizon neighborhood meeting because he was chairing a committee session at City Hall scheduled at the same time. While he declined the discuss the lawsuit because it is being dealt with by the council in executive session, he said City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski praised him, the mayor, and Ward 1 Councilor Jon Turco in a Daily Item story in March, noting they “have never wavered in their commitment to protect the integrity of the city’s residential neighborhoods.”
The other topic on voters’ minds in the district, Corriveau said, is the offensive odor coming from the Rousselot manufacturing plant. The global company, which calls itself the world’s leading producer of gelatin for the pharmaceutical and food industries, is at the corner of Allens Lane and Washington Street.
“I’ve been going door-to-door in those neighborhoods and people are very concerned about the pungent odor coming out of there,” she said. “There’s been very little action by the ward councilor to advocate on behalf of residents. It’s a serious quality of life issue and it’s gotten so bad some residents are talking about moving. Where has he been?”
McGinn said he has worked for years to bring Rousselot in compliance with health standards.
“I’ve made several site visits with neighbors, most recently on June 8, to tour the operations and observe the mitigation steps implemented by Rousselot,” he said. “It involves filters, caps, various containment measures, and process controls. The company has invested significant money to mitigate the problem. This most recent issue that occurred on July 22 was the result of equipment failure, that doesn’t make it right, but it was an anomaly.”
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection was on site last week, he said, and have issued a notice of enforcement. In addition, he said, the city has issued $1,000 a day fines for the nuisance.
McGinn said he has worked hard and has been an effective representative for the residents of Ward 2 since he was elected in 2013.
“I plan to continue to provide that same level of effort for Ward 2 into the future,” he said.
For her part, Corriveau said she’s been a volunteer at the Peter A. Torigian Senior Center and Haven From Hunger, the nonprofit whose mission is to feed and house needy families.
She works in the financial department of American Renal Associates in Beverly, a dialysis service provider.
“As your councilor, I will always return your calls, and be a strong advocate for your quality of life,” she told voters in her announcement. “People want someone in City Hall who will stand up for Ward 2.”