Monthly Archives: October 2014

Still time to be heard on Brimbal Avenue proposal

North Beverly Neighborhood Association member Jennifer Morris Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 11:55 pm Salem Evening News To the editor: Regarding the Brimbal Avenue project, residents throughout the city seem to think the North Beverly Neighborhood Association and the “No” voters “won.” However, it is important that people understand that we are still facing largely the same development plan that so many strongly objected to last fall/winter. Yes there will be no land swap (fortunately), so the city will not acquire the former landfill and build a road on it. That in turn means CEA can only build a smaller plaza. While that is great, the premise of the project remains the same. We are still getting the same style road “improvements” — two roundabouts, a new set of lights and four lanes in areas. They will just be shifted over. They are still out of scale for the area and a severe overreaction to a bad left-hand turn. We are still getting a retail plaza — it will just be on the smaller landfill site. And importantly, despite what the developer previously stated, the plaza will still include Whole Foods, which will draw immense traffic seven days a week at all hours.

planning board hearing october21

200 residents turned out at Oct 21 Planning Board meeting. Photo: David Le, Salem News Staff

The latest traffic studies (from the developer) show that previous estimates of the impact of the plaza were severely underestimated. The plaza is projected to generate an additional 4,500 vehicle trips on weekdays and 6,400 trips on Saturdays, with 55 percent of those trips traveling local roads and Brimbal Avenue rather than the highway. That level of traffic will not only significantly deteriorate our quality of life, it also jeopardizes the operation of the road improvements that the state is spending $5 million in taxpayer money to make. Further, the road improvements do not address the problems on both ends of Brimbal, and so those current backups will grow considerably with the addition of the traffic from the proposed plaza. As traffic already backs up from Dodge Street close to Route 128 at times, with the addition of the plaza, traffic will back up into the brand new roundabouts. The result will be disastrous. Then add the Music Theatre and the new Cummings office buildings on Dunham Road… Traveling on Brimbal Avenue, an important local road that connects different sections of the city, will be unbearable. All because the developer is insistent on including a large regional grocery store, the largest traffic generator of any land use, in an inappropriate location — between two vibrant neighborhoods, on a street that is home to two elementary schools, a day care facility, a nursing home, an ambulance service and within a half mile of Beverly Hospital and Beverly High School. Virtually anything else built on the site would have less of a negative impact. This means that we are still in the same situation as last fall: facing development projects that will drastically change the character neighborhoods and the ease of travel through the city. While the road plans are set and moving forward, there is still time to impact the plaza proposal. The plaza requires a special permit. Special permits must meet six criteria, including not adversely affecting the character of adjoining uses, and not having an undue impact on traffic or property values. We hope the Planning Board makes the correct assessment that this proposal does not meet the criteria. To that end, there will be another public hearing regarding the proposed plaza on Nov. 18, 7pm (place TBD). I encourage everyone with concerns about the plaza to attend and speak. This is not a “North Beverly issue.” This project is going to have severe and widespread impacts across the city of Beverly as motorists look to avoid the newly introduced roadblock. Don’t sit idly by as it happens. Express your thoughts before all the decisions are made.

Beverly has submitted MassWorks application for Phase II

The City is currently seeking $2 million to fund the cost of surveying, design/engineering and permitting for Phase II of the Exit 19/ Brimbal Avenue project. The scope of the infrastructure project will include widening and extending Otis Road and construction of an overpass over Route 128. The new overpass would lead to potential roundabout north of Route 128 in the
Dunham Rd. area.  City of Beverly-MassWorks application-Phase 2-2014

Important Planning Board Meeting October 21


The Planning Board has scheduled a Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 21st at 7:00 pm at the Senior Center,  90 Colon St. The CEA Group has asked for a special permit which would allow them to build a  shopping plaza on Brimbal Ave.  At this hearing, residents will be given an opportunity to share our concerns about the proposal and express how the project will impact our neighborhoods.

As you may have read in the Oct 9 headline of the Salem News, “New Study Doubles Traffic Impact of Brimbal Plaza”, the proposed shopping center will bring a dramatic increase in cars to the North Beverly and Montserrat neighborhoods.  According to a new traffic study, an additional 408 vehicle trips per hour  every weekday afternoon, or a total of 6,530 trips daily, are anticipated.  On weekends, the retail plaza will bring an additional 573 trips per hour for a total of 9,430 trips every Saturday. These new numbers, provided by the developer’s own traffic consultant, provide a glimpse into the impact on residential neighborhoods if the developer, CEA Group, is granted a special permit by the Planning Board, to build a destination grocery store on the former landfill on Brimbal Ave.

When the CEA Group first presented this proposal to the Planning Board last year, Mayor Scanlon insisted that only 10 % of the traffic going to this new shopping center would travel on Brimbal Ave. and that 90% of the traffic would enter and exit via the highway.  However, according to this new analysis,  55% of this traffic will travel along Brimbal Ave. and local neighborhood roads to arrive at this plaza, . This will dramatically alter the character of our neighborhood and further  diminish the quality of life for those of us who live near the proposed shopping center.

A closer look at the traffic study reveals the following:  There will be  6,400 new vehicle trips on  Brimbal Ave. every Saturday.   The majority of these vehicles will travel on Brimbal Ave, Dodge St,  Essex St,  Colon St. and Herrick St. in order to arrive at the shopping plaza.  If the Planning Board grants the developer the special permit for the shopping center,  a dramatic increase in traffic onto neighborhood streets and side streets would result as drivers look for alternate routes.

On school days, over 4,500 new vehicle trips will occur on Brimbal Ave every afternoon in order to arrive at this destination grocery store. This will be in addition to the traffic already on Brimbal Ave that  routinely stalls due to backups on Route 128 or to delays at the MBTA crossings at North Beverly and Montserrat.  When the additional traffic to be generated by the anticipated expansion of the Cummings Property on Dunham Rd is factored in, as well as the hundreds of vehicles traveling to the North Shore Music Theater,  gridlock will become a regular occurrence.

Let your voice be heard!  Please plan to attend the Public Hearing on  October 21, and encourage your neighbors to attend as well.

See the current plans here.