Category Archives: Meetings

Public Hearing Continued – January 21 – More information

PUBLIC HEARING ON BRIMBAL AVE PROPOSED SHOPPING CENTER
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 21st at 7 p.m.
BEVERLY SENIOR CENTER

The Beverly Planning Board has scheduled another Public Hearing to consider public comment on the CEA Group’s proposal to build a 66,000 square foot Shopping Center on Brimbal Ave. This is our final opportunity to express our concerns about the impact this development will have on our neighborhoods. Some things you need to know:

  • The developer is seeking direct access to the Connector Road. This will cause congestion beyond the rotary that will extend onto Route 128, especially during morning and evening commutes.
  • A proposed entrance to the shopping Center on Sohier Rd will create traffic backups to Northridge Homes’ entrance and create a hazardous intersection that will result in dangerous U-turns.
  • New proposals would add a signal at the intersection of Brimbal Ave and Colon St and the widening of Brimbal Ave at Essex St in response to the increased traffic caused by the shopping center.
  • Increased traffic caused by the shopping center will reduce access to Beverly Hospital and delay police, fire and ambulance response times.
  • The proposed Brimbal Ave entrance to the plaza requires left turns into the plaza without a signal even though eliminating unsignalized left turns was the main purpose for the re-design of Brimbal Ave.
  • Traffic studies failed to consider the impact of the Music Theater events and the office buildings and parking for 1,000 cars at Cummings new development on Dunham Rd.
  • An additional 370 vehicles per hour during weekday evening commute and an additional 548 vehicles per hour on Saturday afternoons will be added to Brimbal Ave. This shopping center will add 4,200 vehicles every weekday and 6,436 more vehicles every Saturday onto Brimbal Ave.

 PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND THIS IMPORTANT MEETING AND HELP PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORHOODS!!

Last week several hundred residents attended Tuesday night’s Planning Board pubic hearing on traffic impact.  See the Salem News coverage (NeighborsObject to Brimbal Ave shopping plaza SEN1142015 ) or watch it (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZwlsKlAbwg#t=8486).  Not everyone was able to speak so the hearing will be continued on Wed night, January 21 at 7:00pm.

Also note that we are adding new  material to the Documents page of this site.  We are maintaining this as an archive of decisions, plans, petitions, correspondence and the like related to this project.  Please use it as a resource and a way to stay informed.

Public Hearing Tuesday, January 13

PUBLIC HEARING ON BRIMBAL AVE DEVELOPMENT TRAFFIC IMPACT
  TUESDAY JANUARY 13th at 7 p.m. BEVERLY SENIOR CENTER

The Beverly Planning Board has scheduled a Public Hearing to consider the impact of traffic from CEA Group’s proposal to build a 66,000 square foot Shopping Center on Brimbal Ave.  This is our final opportunity to express our concerns about the impact this development will have on our neighborhoods.  ( Planning Board Agenda 1.13.15 )  (the latest from Mayor Cahill: From Mayor Mike Cahill) Some things you need to know:

  • The developer is seeking direct access to the Connector Rd. This will cause congestion beyond the rotary that will extend onto Route 128, especially during morning and evening commutes.
  • A proposed entrance to the shopping Center on Sohier Rd will create traffic backups to Northridge Homes entrance and create a dangerous intersection that will result in dangerous U-turns.
  • New proposals would add a signal at the intersection of Brimbal Ave and Colon St and the widening of Brimbal Ave at Essex St in response to the increased traffic caused by the shopping center.
  • Increased traffic caused by the shopping center will reduce access to Beverly Hospital and delay police, fire and ambulance response times.
  • The proposed Brimbal Ave entrance to the plaza requires left turns into the plaza without a signal even though eliminating unsignaled left turns was the main purpose for the re-design of Brimbal Ave.
  • Traffic studies failed to consider the impact of the Music Theater events and the office buildings and parking for 1,000 cars at Cummings new development on Dunham Rd.
  • An additional 370 vehicles per hour during weekday evening commute and an additional 548 vehicles per hour on Saturday afternoons will be added to Brimbal Ave.  This shopping center will add 4,200 vehicles every weekday and 6,436 more vehicles every Saturday onto Brimbal Ave.

 PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND THIS IMPORTANT MEETING AND HELP PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORHOODS!!

If you can’t attend write to the Planning Board, 191 Cabot St., Beverly, MA 01915

Important Planning Board Meeting October 21

IMPORTANT PLANNING BOARD MEETING, OCTOBER 21, 2014 AT 7:00 pm

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.

News from the Brimbal Avenue Advisory Committee

The Brimbal Avenue Advisory Committee was established by the City Council in November 2013. Its goal is “…to meet monthly during the reconstruction of Brimbal Avenue, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, to receive updates on the project and to keep the residents of this area updated and informed.” The committee met last Thursday with Rod Emery of Jacobs Engineering, the consultant hired by the city to design the Brimbal Avenue interchange. The notes from that meeting are shown below, prepared by committee member Jen Morris.

The gist of this is: (1) We have phase 1 because phase 2 is too large and expensive, so better some development than none. NBNA questions, “Is this smart?” (2) Building on a multi-decade, unregulated landfill is full of trouble, which is common sense. Said trouble just now raising its ugly head, apparently. The MassDOT and Jacobs Engineering do not agree with the developer on how to address several problems. Even Mayor Cahill is uncertain over who pays for what. Regulatory permitting is escalating. (3) Traffic signal, or no traffic signal. Who knows? It seems to depend on who you ask and when you ask. Pedestrian safety and bike lane features will probably not be what you were expecting. (4) Current traffic study numbers are underestimates. Did not take into consideration grocery store versus general retail store, which makes a big difference. Did not take into consideration messy intersections already at both ends of Brimbal Avenue. (5) And the big shocker to some: Phase 1 is not really necessary. From a traffic flow standpoint, there is little improvement to moving the connector road with roundabouts 0.1 mile to the south. Installing roundabouts on the existing connector road would provide nearly the same traffic benefits. At one point it was hoped that phase 1 roadways would directly connect to phase 2 roadways. But not now. So, again, why phase 1?

Brimbal Avenue Advisory Committee Notes
From the meeting on Thursday, January 23, 2014
Jen Morris

The Brimbal Avenue Advisory Committee members are: residents Dan DeAngelis, Molly Benson, Matt Kelsch, Judy Martin, Jen Morris, and Arlene Schlegel; Don Martin, the Ward 5 City Councilor; Denise Deschamps, Beverly’s Economic Development Planner; and a representative from the Beverly City Engineer’s office.

Special guest for meeting: Rod Emery of Jacobs Engineering, the City’s consultant for the roadway design.

City Officials in attendance: Mayor Mike Cahill; Paul Guanci, City Councilor At-large; David Lang, Ward 1 City Councilor; Don Martin, Ward 5 City Councilor; Matt St. Hillaire, City Councilor At-large; Jason Silva, City Councilor At-large.

History of the plan as told by Rod Emery

  1. In 2009 an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) was sent to the state for review and comments. There was no funding and the project sat for a couple years. The original plan used the existing connector road and was one project. The original project was a $20 million plan. They were not able to get the project on the TIP program.
  2. Secretary of Economic Development Bialecki said that money would be available for phased improvements. Mayor Scanlon asked what was possible to accomplish with $5 million. $5 million gave us the Phase 1 plan. The Phase 1 plan was created over one year ago. Mayor Scanlon believed that commercial businesses in the area would be willing to develop with improvements made to the interchange area.
  3. MEPA was approached for a Phase 1 waiver to help expedite the process.
  4. City knew there were plans from Cohen and began speaking with him about land swap.
  5. The original Phase 1 plan would have brought access to Route 128 by building a connector road on the Sunoco station property directly connecting to the Brimbal roundabout. It was stopped because there were wetlands in the area and a possible vernal pool and MassDOT did not want to deal with that. (Lang stated that the Conservation Commission was never approached about this idea.)
  6. Bialecki was told that there were 4 possible businesses in the area that would expand with a Phase 1 project: CPI, Cell Signaling Technology, Beverly Hospital and the new shopping plaza.
  7. In 2012 new traffic studies were conducted. They added regional growth at 0.5% a year for 7 years and new projected traffic from the 4 projects. The traffic numbers were created using general retail numbers and not a grocery store. (Grocery plans were not known at the time). The traffic numbers would increase for grocery.
  8. Trip estimates used peak evening times which do not account for North Shore Music Theatre traffic. DOT looks at NSMT as a special event so those numbers do not have to be considered.
  9. 25% plans were submitted in August 2013. They had comments and needed an approved right of way plan. There has been discussion back and forth on the design and changes and therefore a public hearing has not been scheduled yet.
  10. CEA Group already had an order from DEP on how to proceed so the city was using their information.
  11. CEA has two companies working for them: Tetratech for the site plan and Hadley and Aldrich for the landfill.
  12. The state would own the roadway at the end of the project. The city would be building the road.
  13. Emery reiterated the benefits of roundabouts over signals (less queuing with roundabouts) and emphasized that roundabouts are safe.

The landfill is problematic for building a road

  1. MassDOT does not want to deal with the landfill. Their assessment is that the land is not strong enough for the road and it would cost significantly more than the current $5 million budget to prepare the landfill for the road. Due to the landfill nature of the property, there is a settlement problem in that the land is subject to sinking as the landfill materials decompose.
  2. According to MassDOT and Jacobs Engineering soil will absolutely need to be removed from the landfill site. (Some will likely need to be handled as hazardous waste.) DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) wants 15,000 cubic yards removed to create basin for drainage system. Soil would also need to be removed to shore up land to support the road. (TBD whether it is 2 feet, 4 feet, or the whole thing that would need to be removed.) DEP also said that anything excavated will need to be taken off site. (The landfill has 4-5 feet of clean fill on the surface right now.)
  3. CEA has stated that they feel they can pound the existing soil down and place fill over it. MassDOT and Jacobs disagree.
  4. MassDOT and Jacobs say there will need to be expensive geotechnical solutions to address the settlement problem of the soil, such as geopiers.
  5. The $5 million MassWorks budget does not include the costs of removing soil or providing the extra supports necessary to prepare the land for the road.
  6. If the land swap goes through, according to Cahill it is TBD who pays for landfill costs, what counts as landfill costs (e.g. soil removal and geotech support for road), and what the legal commitment/agreement would be. The aim is for the developer to pay for these costs.
  7. The landfill land we would get from the developer would not actually be cleaned up, it would merely be prepped to be able to handle a road. While some soil will be removed for the purposes of the road, there will be no formal remediation or capping of the landfill for environmental reasons.
  8. To build the road on the landfill will require a Landfill Permit for a major modification. (CEA previously received a landfill permit for a minor modification, but that would not be applicable to the road plan.) This permitting process will take time, will require the testing of soil, and there could be additional conditions that would need to be met to move forward with the road.
  9. The Brimbal Avenue Advisory Committee has still not received several environmental testing results (a 21E from 2004; Jacobs 2009 EIR; results from CEA’s quarterly testing). (Lang emphasized the need to get those reports.)

Pedestrian safety is a concern

  1. Emery confirmed that the current plan has a signal at Herrick St. but said that could be removed if funds become an issue.
  2. Emery confirmed that there will be NO signals for pedestrians to cross the street. The crosswalks are planned at the roundabouts, so pedestrians will have to cross 4 lanes of roundabout traffic without a pedestrian signal. As of now, to cross halfway and wait to cross the other half, pedestrians will only have lane stripping to protect them in the middle (that is, no raised pedestrian island in the middle).
  3. The state has no policy for multiple lane roundabouts with bike and pedestrian crossings. Still discussing whether islands should be added on pedestrians crossing so they have a place to stand in the middle of the street.
  4. Emery said the bike lanes will really be the road shoulders and it is unlikely that any bike symbols will be painted on the ground.

There are issues with the traffic study

  1. The traffic study was based on “general retail”. We now know the development would include a major grocery store, and “grocery” is a much larger trip generator than retail and commercial development. Putting that into the study would increase the number of vehicles forecasted.
  2. The traffic study did not take into consideration traffic from the North Shore Music Theater, which would combine with shopping center traffic after 6 p.m. during events.

The Phase 1 plan we have been presented is NOT the only alternative that would work for the area

  1. Emery confirmed that the connector road does not need to be moved. Traffic and safety improvements can be made in its current location, on the existing footprint.
  2. The main reasoning behind moving the connector road was an initial plan for the road between Brimbal and the Phase 2 off-ramp to directly connect to the Brimbal roundabout (where Sunoco is now—the plan was to “take” Sunoco by eminent domain), and then diagonally connect to the Phase 2 rotary at the top of Otis Road. However, MassDOT shut that plan down because it would require the road between Brimbal and Otis to go directly through wetlands. So the alternative was to have Phase 2 connect to Brimbal by using the full length of Otis Road, and having a traffic signal at the intersection of Otis and Brimbal. Since the plan no longer connects Phase 1 and Phase 2 at the Brimbal roundabout, there is no real reason to move the connector road. Emery said that MassDot likes the added queuing length, but that it is not necessary. Emery said the main reason for sticking with moving the connector road was the land swap with CEA.
  3. Emery also noted that he personally liked a signal at the Brimbal/Connector road intersection, since the rotary raises challenges for the Sunoco station and the gasoline deliveries. However, MassDOT pushed for a roundabout there.
  4. Emery did not deny that the City could have pursued Phase 2 first.

It is clear that the whole city needs to be better informed before any decision is made.








That Was a Snowy Meeting!

Thank you to all Beverly residents who braved Tuesday’s snow storm to attend our Meet, Greet, and Educate event at the Centerville Improvement Society. We appreciate your effort and dedication to learn more about the Brimbal Avenue interchange project. We love meeting and chatting with our neighbors, and your suggestions and support mean so much to us! Let’s hope we do not have a storm like this on February 8!

Please read and share our 8-page hand-out from the meeting. This is not the same one as used at our January 9 meeting. It has been updated to reflect new information from the developer that we learned about through the Salem News.

NBNA at the Centerville Improvement Society on Tuesday Night

A repeat of our Meet, Greet and Educate event, in case you missed the January 9 meeting. Please join us for a discussion about the Brimbal Avenue Rezoning Special Election. Neighborhood residents will discuss the project, answer your questions, and offer ways for you to get involved. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and lasts about 90 minutes. The Centerville Improvement Society is at 437 Essex Street.