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December 18, 2013

Brimbal ballot question all set

BEVERLY — “Yes” will mean “yes” and “no” will mean “no” when voters go to the poll for a special election on Feb. 8.

The City Council on Monday approved the language for a ballot question that will decide the fate of the $5 million Brimbal Avenue interchange project.

The way the question is posed, a “yes” vote upholds a measure adopted by the City Council to rezone 2.5 acres of state-owned property, while a “no” vote defeats the rezoning measure. Mayor Bill Scanlon has said the Brimbal Avenue project will not proceed if the rezoning is defeated.

North Beverly Neighborhood Association member Dan DeAngelis, whose group led the petition drive to get the question on the ballot, said he generally supports the way the question is written.

“The important thing in my mind is if you vote ‘no,’ you’re voting against it,” DeAngelis said. “I didn’t want any confusion about it.”

The question was written by City Clerk Kathleen Connolly in consultation with City Solicitor Roy Gelineau.

Connolly said she wrote the question based on guidelines set by the City Charter that govern citizen initiative petitions. She also researched a ballot question from 1995 regarding the rezoning of the current Stop & Shop property on Elliott Street.

“We follow the charter very closely,” Connolly said.

The question is limited to whether voters want to affirm or defeat the rezoning measure. It does not mention that defeating the rezoning would stop the Brimbal Avenue interchange project.

The city sought the rezoning because it would allow the state to swap its 2.5 acres for adjacent land owned by developer CEA Group. The city and state say the privately owned land is needed to move the interchange; the rezoning would allow CEA Group to apply for a special permit to build a $20 million shopping plaza on the state-owned land.

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