Category Archives: In the News

Appeal of Planning Board Decision is Filed in Land Court

On April 17th, neighbors and abutters, representing the North Beverly Neighborhood Association, who will suffer irreparable damage if CEA’s North Shore Crossing plaza is realized, have appealed in Land Court the Beverly Planning Board’s March 31 decision to grant a special permit to Steven Cohen and CEA for the project. We, along with three members of the Beverly Planning Board, reject the conclusions of the majority of the Planning Board that this project fulfills all or any special permit criteria. We believe that judicial review of the Board’s decision by the Justices of the Land Court, considering all pertinent information, will lead to a different determination.

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

Globally Unique Interchange Right Here in Beverly, MA

This text appeared in the Salem News yesterday, paired with the photo below.

The truth is that the Exit 19 interchange on Route 128 at Brimbal Avenue is a nightmare. There is very likely no other interchange in the entire world quite like it. It is unsafe and causes great delays wasting time and fuel while polluting the environment. —Bill Scanlon, Salem News, February 4, 2014

Please don’t take our word for it. Read the letter to the editor along with its photo here.

Heavy traffic on Brimbal Avenue interchange

Everybody, watch out!

Breaking News: New Connector Road on Shaky Ground

We did mention a couple days ago that we learned a lot about the Brimbal Avenue interchange plans last week. Rod Emery, the consultant from Jacobs Engineering hired by the city to design the interchange, met with members of the Brimbal Avenue Advisory Committee. Our notes from that meeting are here.

We learned that the land currently owned by CEA Group, which CEA Group wants to swap for state-owned land, is so crumbly that MassDOT doubts they can design a stable road over that land. We also learned the traffic study numbers are bogus, since they did not take into account that proposed shopping center would have a regional grocery store as a tenant. Funny thing is we pointed this out during the public hearings in September: that you don’t seem to understand the nature of that old dump, that a major grocery chain will attract much more traffic and that must be included in the modeling, that there must be a Plan B. Note you can use old-fashioned common sense to arrive at the conclusion that something is wrong with these ideas. Would you build your home on a decades-old, unregulated landfill without a thorough environmental study giving the site a pristine clean bill of health? Do you really believe a large shopping center will bring only 30 cars per hour at peak traffic times to Brimbal Avenue? Is there only one way to bring smart development and traffic improvements to the Brimbal Avenue interchange? Of course not!

Moving along, Mayor Cahill has now issued a statement making clear that MassDOT is having trouble with the concept of moving the connector road. The terrain is too spongy. MassDOT won’t spend taxpayer funds to build a road that sinks. A Plan B would be to leave the connector road where it is now and add traffic improvements to each end of it. Mayor Cahill makes clear that everyone will go along with moving the connector road only if CEA Group takes full responsibility for all costs associated with making the land CEA Group now owns suitable for a roadway—less spongy.

The irony of all this is that it really isn’t news. The condition of the land currently owned by CEA Group was thoroughly discussed at a joint City Council-Planning Board meeting on December 15, 2008. The minutes of the meeting are here. We highlighted the parts we feel are most interesting. But note this passage:

Bob Griffin with Griffin Engineering says this site has gentle topography but the difficult part about developing this site is the fact that this was a waste dump with a stream running though the middle of it and at some points the waste is about 25 feet deep and it is different at other points. He states that the waste material is very heterogeneous but it varies in thickness density and will not settle consistently throughout the site. He states that there are regulatory bodies in place to enforce the standards for the development of this site. He cites the Jordan’s Furniture and Home Depot in Reading as examples which were built on a landfill with the buildings on piles with gas monitoring and gas venting facilities in some of the buildings.

To put that “25 feet deep” number is perspective, that’s a two-story building.

So again people, why are we moving the connector road? Increasingly this looks like the only reason is so CEA Group can build a larger shopping center, because their land after the swap will be larger than their currently owned land. It’s not the best site for the connector road, according to MassDOT and Jacobs Engineering. Phase 1 roadways will not connect to phase 2 roadways, with the land swap or without it. More and more this looks like a development project disguised as a traffic improvement project. If the connector road cannot be built on the site of the dump and needs to stay where it is, why do we need the swap? Let’s Vote NO! Let CEA Group keep the dump site they bought in 2005 and build the original project made up of office space and a little retail. Ask yourself before you decide how to vote, “Why is Phase 1 necessary? Does it create more problems than it solves?”

Remember to Vote NO on February 8!