, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 12, 2014

Highway sign plan fuels criticism of Salisbury businessman

SALISBURY — Controversy continues to swirl around the Zoning Board of Appeals approval of an 89-foot-tall electronic billboard next to Interstate 95.

When the vote was taken last month, it immediately drew some criticism because two board members who voted in favor had connections to two of the business partners of Northvison LLC -- Wayne Capolupo and Herman Fortin.

Now, town officials are receiving anonymous packets of information calling into question the business practices and financial management skills of Northvision’s third business partner, Peter McClary.

Town Manager Neil Harrington said the allegations contained in the packets are “something to consider.” He said should the town establish a formal relationship with Northvision on the billboard, he would “certainly do my due diligence” in investigating the situation. Northvision has promised $70,000 a year in hosting fees to Salisbury should a deal be struck.

McClary, whose business dealings involve developing billboards and cellphone towers in various Massachusetts communities, joined with Capolupo, a prominent Salisbury businessman, to build the large billboard on land owned by Fortin on Main Street in Salisbury.

At issue is a Chapter 7, personal bankruptcy filed by McClary on June 26, 2013 made up of mostly business-related debts. The court documents related to his filing lay out his financial troubles, and confirm the existence of the eight lawsuits in which McClary is the defendant, all of which were listed in the anonymous letter. In his filing, McClary estimated there would be no funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors after all bankruptcy expenses are paid.

According to court documents, at the time of the filing McClary estimated he owed between $500,000 to $1 million to several businesses and individuals. Court records show debts included $327,265 owed to businesses, individuals and agencies in unsecured nonpriority claims, as well as another $5,000 for a car loan.

For example, according to the “Claims Register” found in the bankruptcy documents, the Internal Revenue Service filed a claim for more than $79,000; Maryanne Lewis, one of those who are suing McClary, filed for $40,000, and American Express Centurion Bank for $35,139.

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