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.
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.
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.
We are in the newspaper again, this time in the Boston Globe. The article describes the upcoming special election not just in terms of the ballot question on rezoning but also the entire scope of the project. Mayor Scanlon explains that of all the land in Beverly set aside for commercial use, “…fully one-third of that entire business land mass is on the two sides of Brimbal Avenue, along a 2,000-foot stretch.” Don Martin, the ward 5 City Councilor, counters “There are other ways to generate revenue, other than destroying neighborhoods. The neighborhoods have to come first.”
Richard Dinkin, Planning Board Chair, explains the land speed record the Planning Board set on October 8, 2013: after three joint City Council-Planning Board meetings and public hearings lasting more than 8 hours, the Planning Board voted to recommend the zoning change to the City Council in a meeting that lasted only 5 minutes. At 15 minutes after midnight! According to Dinkin, those opposed to the project provided only “unsupported opinions” while those who favor the project provided “evidence that can be supported by facts.” The problem is we feel many of these so-called “facts” are soft, such as
- The number of cars that will be added to Brimbal Avenue during phase 1
- The number of new jobs that will be created by phase 1 and 2
- The quality and permanence of those jobs
- The tax revenue generated by phase 1 and phase 2
- How much development is really planned for this area
- How far development will reach into established neighborhoods
Are you confident in the City’s numbers and answers on these points? Are they opinions or rock-solid facts?
Again we question the purpose of phase 1 and its necessity.
A good way to participate in this discussion and learn what NBNA has learned, is to attend our Meet, Greet and Educate meeting later this week, on Thursday, January 9. Some meeting details are provided here.
On Monday, December 30, 2013, the City Council held a special meeting to discuss and approve the final wording of the referendum Ballot Question. The Ballot Question was drafted by Dan DeAngelis of the NBNA, City Solicitor Roy Gelineau, and City Clerk Kathleen Connolly several weeks ago and was amended on December 26. At tonight’s City Council meeting, the Ballot Question was approved by an 8-0 vote. The approved Ballot Question is shown below.
Click to view the full-size image
Vote NO on February 8!
Below is the text to Dan DeAngelis’ statement to the City Council from Monday night. At the meeting, the Council voted to set the date for the citizen referendum for Saturday February 8th at a single location, Beverly High School.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening. My name is Dan DeAngelis, a 33 year resident of Brimbal Ave and I represent the North Beverly Neighborhood Association. I would like to thank Kathleen Connolly in particular and her staff as well as the Board of Registrars for all their efforts in certifying the required signatures of the Brimbal Ave Petition.
I would like to thank the dozens of concerned citizens and local small business owners who agreed that the rezoning of Brimbal Ave was an issue that deserves the input of all Beverly voters and who worked tirelessly to get the necessary signatures. Finally, I would like to thank the thousands of Beverly residents who supported us and signed the petition to have the measure, Order 128, placed on the ballot.
The land swap and the proposal to rezone the parcel in question fail to resolve many issues. The land swap relieves the developer of the expense of mitigating a former landfill. The cleanup of this site, a former burn dump, and all the potential and unknown consequences, will be paid for by the taxpayer. It is critical that a full environmental impact study be performed before any work begins. At last month’s Conservation Committee meeting, the city’s engineering firm disclosed that some 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will need to be removed at taxpayer expense in order to build the connector road.
The MassWorks grant, if it is awarded, first and foremost benefits this developer and is not in the best interests of Beverly residents. The full cost of road work and traffic controls will be incurred by the taxpayer. The land swap proposed is not necessary to make effective traffic improvements. Many opportunities exist, including the addition of a limited number of traffic lights, which would lessen the impact of the development and be of a more reasonable size and scope relative to the residential neighborhoods and school zones on either side of this development. The lengthening of the Exit 19 off ramp has been cited as a reason for the land swap. But even the city’s traffic engineer indicated that any queuing of vehicles onto route 128 was eliminated once a traffic officer arrived for duty on Brimbal Ave. This practice has been in place for decades. And with the completion of Phase 2, lengthening of the ramp would be unnecessary. Since there is no real need for the extension of the off ramp, the land swap is unnecessary for traffic purposes. Funding should instead be directed to where actual problems do exist such as the lengthy backups onto route 128 from Exit 20N which occur every weekday morning.
Residents are concerned about the roadway changes and the shopping plaza which the land swap will enable. Despite claims to the contrary, the proposed configuration of the connector road requires every vehicle entering the shopping center, 300 vehicles per peak pm hour, to enter from Brimbal Ave or travel around the Brimbal Ave rotary. Imagine what that will look like at 7 pm when the traffic is just beginning to arrive for the NSMT. The backups these proposals will create will clog neighborhood streets, make access more difficult for emergency vehicles and result in the inevitable cut throughs onto side streets by commuters looking for alternative routes. A recent report in the Salem News indicated that, in spite of traffic improvements on Route 128 at Routes 35 and 62, accidents have increased. And those intersections do not include the rotaries proposed for Brimbal Ave.
Even if the city receives the $5 million grant, the funding will do nothing to alleviate the traffic problems that exist at the North Beverly train crossing, for example, and the frequent backup of traffic that results , often all the way back to Dunham Rd. It will not remove NSMT traffic from Brimbal Ave. and it will do nothing to address the increased traffic that will arise with the development of the Cummings property on Dunham Rd. In fact, by facilitating the development of this destination shopping center, traffic will grow even more difficult for the foreseeable future. The backups on Brimbal Ave, coupled with the daily congestion on route 1A truly will turn North Beverly into an island.
In November of 2012, Beverly was awarded $500,000 to design the new interchange, yet even at this date, one year later; the 25% design plans presented to Mass DOT have been rejected. It is time to step back and reconsider this proposal and the long term impact it will have not just on North Beverly, but on the city as a whole. I ask the council to reconsider your vote on Order 128 or allow the measure to be placed on the ballot. And just as the council did in 2008 when a citizen petition was last placed on the ballot in a special election, I ask that voters be allowed to vote at their traditional Ward Polling Stations which are accessible to all Beverly residents, especially given the likelihood of inclement weather. Thank you for your time.
The Beverly City Clerk confirmed that we have 3,598 certified signatures, enough to ask the City Council to rescind the zoning decision.
The petition and request to rescind order 128 will be submitted to the Council next Monday. It will be referred to committee. If the Council doesn’t rescind their vote, the Council will then set a date for a special election, possibly late January or early February.