SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 18, 2013

Brimbal ballot question all set

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — 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.

Mayor Bill Scanlon says the interchange project is key to opening up hundreds of acres of land along Brimbal Avenue and Route 128 to development that would generate much-needed tax revenue for the city.

Opponents say the project is too big for the area and the shopping plaza would create too much traffic.

The election is scheduled for Feb. 8, which is a Saturday. All voting will take place at Beverly High School, rather than the six regular polling locations throughout the city.

Connolly said the city is required to mail notices to every household with a registered voter to inform them of the change in polling location. She said those notices must be sent at least 20 days before the election.

DeAngelis said the North Beverly Neighborhood Association plans to hold a series of informational meetings to encourage people to defeat the rezoning. The first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 9 at the Vittori-Rocci Post from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.

Beverly ballot question Voters will decide the following question in a special election on Feb. 8: Do you approve of the measure adopted by the City Council summarized below? YES ___ Affirms the City Council measure NO ____ Defeats the City Council measure The measure adopted by the City Council (Order #128) is to rezone 2.5 acres of state-owned property land and roadway access ramps located immediately north of the current boundaries of IR Overlay District, between Brimbal Avenue, Route 128 and Sohier Road. The state land is now zoned as Industrial Restricted, research and office (IR) to IR Overlay. The measure takes land already zoned for industrial use and also allows commercial use by special permit from the Planning Board for the following uses. 1. Retail establishments 2. Restaurants selling food both for consumption on and off the premises 3. Dwellings in a Mixed Use development 4. Gymnasium, health club, indoor commercial swimming pool 5. Personal and consumer service establishments including, but not limited to, barber or beauty shop or Laundromat 6. Shared parking for residential/commercial development 7. A maximum building height of 60 feet 8. An increase in impervious lot coverage to 75%